A Mount husband and wife have been honoured for their services and commitment to the game of chess.

Bob and Viv Smith have both been awarded the meritorious service award from the Asian Chess Federation.

Mr Smith has played chess since he was a child, and made more than 40 years of contributions to the board game.

He was the president of the New Zealand Chess Federation for seven years, represented New Zealand at the Chess Olympics 12 times, won the New Zealand title twice and organised countless tournaments.


Mrs Smith received the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013 for her services to chess, especially in promoting the game among girls.

She served on the New Zealand Chess Federation Council, and was selected for the NZ Women's Olympiad team 15 times and won the New Zealand women's title 10 times.

Both are International Chess Masters and are life members of the NZ Chess Federation.

When Mr Smith was seven he saw some other children playing the game so got a book out of the library and taught himself how to play.

"I've been playing since then" he told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.

Mr Smith said it was a great game to learn.

"It's an unending puzzle.

"It allows you to express you imagination, has virtually no luck in it and it is a real test of skill.

"Other games have that element of luck. You make your own luck in chess and it is a logical game," he said.

He started playing the game competitively when he was 16.

His wife said she loved the game.

The pair who do not usually play against each other unless in a competition, do have a magnetic game going on their Mount Maunganui fridge.

"We will go by it and make a move and if you are in a bad position you will stall for days," she said.

"I've only ever beaten him once in a serious game. I was pregnant with my second child - 26 years ago."

The pair said they were both honoured to have received the awards.

The couple are also the founders and organisers of the Mount Chess Club, which meets every Monday afternoon.

Chess facts:

1. The number of possible ways of playing the first four moves for both sides in a game of chess is 318,979,564,000.

2. The longest game of chess that is theoretically possible is 5949 moves.

3. The first chessboard with alternating light and dark squares (as it appears today) was made in Europe in 1090.