NZ-trained boy wins chess championship

By Hamish Stuart

A New Zealand-trained chess prodigy has been crowned world champion, playing for Australia.

Bobby Cheng won the under-12 boys' division of the World Chess Championship, held from November 11 to 23 in Kemer, Turkey.

He played 11 games, winning eight, drawing two and losing one, to take the title ahead of 2000 other boys.

Bobby was coached at the Auckland Chess Centre in Mt Eden, New Zealand, initially by Bruce Wheeler, then for two years by Ewen Green.

Prior to going into his final games, he talked tactics - specifically his opening moves - with his former coach, Mr Green said today.

Bobby was one taken to France in 2006 to compete at the world tournament there. He was third equal, Mr Green said.

"He was already showing promise at the under-10 level. He was competing against older kids, and had about 50 per cent on them."

Cheng moved to Melbourne about 15 months ago, though had switched to representing Australia only two or three months ago.

In his new home, he was coached by a grandmaster, Mr Green said.

Twelve days of intense, competitive chess against the best players in the world was a gruelling experience , Mr Green said.

New Zealand Chess Taskforce member Edward Lee likewise lauded the victory over the best players from traditionally strong chess nations like Russia and India.

That the achievement had been attained with no Government money made it even more remarkable, he said.

"(Soccer's) All Whites are amazing too - but they can't claim to be world champions. To be a world champion is something really special."

Due to the lack of funding for player development, the country's top players were taking their chess sets and their world-beating game skills overseas, Mr Lee said.

The taskforce was working on promoting the ancient game in New Zealand, he said.

"It's got a lot of benefits for numeracy and literacy for kids, as they have recognised overseas."

- NZPA

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