Burnaby chess whiz winning at boy's game

Ashley Tapp fidgets on the grass at the PNE. Like most 12-year-olds, she would rather be off in her own world then sitting with this then curly-haired interviewer who has a habit of elongating his questions. Unlike most 12-year-olds however, she is a whiz at chess. Perhaps that’s where we bond. As a former competitive player, I know what it takes to be a champion. And Ashley is a champion. More impressive, she is a girl succeeding in a boys’ game.

The occasion of interview is a fundraiser for Ashley’s trip to the world Chess Championships in Slovenia in November. During the fair, she invited onlookers and passersby to play some chess and make a donation. Ashley is without a corporate sponsor and her family has had to find unique ways to raise money for her chess career. Her mother hopes that this not only the doors for female chess players, but also for chess as a whole in Canada.  One group that is doing its part to help are the girl scouts.

To get an idea of how wide the gender disparity is in chess, Ashley explains that there are only one or two other girls in a school of 40 boys. (I can distinctly remember only two girls among the many chess nerds back in my competitive days).

During the interview, Ashley’s eyes wander and she speaks in short sentences. It was a stretch to get the interview to ten minutes. Yet our chess match lasted about an hour, with a crowd of about ten to fifteen applauding by the time I finally succumbed to her prowess. (Hey, I’ve only played a handful of matches in 10 years, give me a break). Add another win to her tally.

The World Youth Chess Championships takes place in Slovenia from November 7-19. To learn more or donate, go here. You can email Ashley at [email protected]. She plays chess every Wednesday night at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

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