New world chess champ got start in NZ

A chess prodigy trained in Mt Eden has been crowned world champion - as a representative of Australia.

Bobby Cheng won the under-12 boys division of the World Chess Championship, held from November 11 to yesterday 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, initially by Bruce Wheeler, then for two years by Ewen Green.

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

At the world championship in France in 2006, Bobby was third equal.

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

Bobby moved to Melbourne about 15 months ago but switched to representing Australia only two or three months ago. He was coached by a grandmaster.

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 such as 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, New Zealand's top players were taking their chess sets and world-beating game skills overseas, Mr Lee said.

The taskforce was working on promoting the 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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