This week marks 10 years since Andrew joined Gardiner Chess. He’s a current co-owner of Gardiner Chess (with Justine Jule, from Dec 2015), CAQ Vice President and Life Member, FIDE Arbiter and FIDE Instructor.
Shaun and Justine asked him some questions about his time in chess, both before and during his time at Gardiner Chess.
When did you start playing chess and why?
My dad showed me how the pieces moved when I was 6 and not long after that I was enrolled in the after school chess club.
Who were some of your coaches/influences while playing chess?
Geoff Butler (now at Fernvale SS) is probably the main one. He taught me at school and t hen through private lessons, before getting me involved in coaching chess. The other main influence would probably be GM David Smerdon who helped influence my opening choices about 15 years ago.
What is your greatest achievement as a chess player?
Winning a number of blitz and rapid junior titles in the ACT or the Australian Minor in 2006.
Have you had any of your students become stronger players than you? If so who?
Yes indeed! IM’s Junta Ikeda and Andrew Brown. Both had an incredible work ethic when it came to learning more about chess.
We know you are a prominent figure in Queensland Chess organising/arbiting many events, which has been your favourite event and why?
Gold Coast Open has become the flagship event in Queensland now so I think seeing that flourish so much has made it probably the favourite.
I believe you have been running the regional inter-school tournaments in Queensland for 10 years?!
I joined Gardiner Chess at the end of July 2010 and went on a three and a half week road trip around the state a week later! It’s amazing to think It’s been 10 years of Interschool, and if not for Covid-19, I would have hit 30 tournaments in Mackay/Townsville/Cairns already!!
You can see a blog I wrote about regional Inter-School events here.
What are some of the most memorable moments/places you have visited on such trips?
I have loved the chance to see regional Queensland. Airlie Beach and Cairns are two of my absolute favourite places, however having the chance to see places which most people will never get to has been the most rewarding. Blackall Wool Scour, QANTAS museum, Stockman’s Hall of Fame, fossicking in the gemfields and even parts of the Daintree.
In terms of the memorable points, there have been floods (Ingham 2013), Cyclones (Marcia 2015), and some scary moments on the road – notably when the Bruce Hwy was closed and Shaun and I had to take a bush track in the hire car to get through!
Thoughts on regional chess in Queensland in 2010 compared to now?
In 2010, the events covered the whole state. Due to OHS and financial reasons we had to stop going all the way out West which was unfortunate, but necessary. Along the coast, the zones have absolutely boomed and there is definitely a much higher level of chess being played. Other zones Gardiner Chess don’t control such as Toowoomba have also come along in leaps and bounds.
Do you plan on playing chess competitively again in the future?
I would love to play competitively again, although it is very hard to see that happening whilst I’m so heavily involved in managing so much. I feel I need to be able to dedicate a few hours a week to study chess again before I attempt playing again.
Where do you see chess in Queensland being in 10 years time?
I think with the current CAQ council being very proactive, as well as a number of solid chess organisations, Queensland chess is in a great position. I believe numbers will keep growing and I hope that I can continue to play a part in that growth. Gold Coast Open in ten years will hopefully be on par with Doeberl Cup for strength each year, whilst I really hope to see the club seen reinvigorated too.
Your most memorable game?
Managing to get a smothered checkmate against a Queenslander in the Australian Juniors down in Morwell back in 2000. You don’t often get to play it out!
Your most memorable loss & why?
I had the chance to play Alexei Shirov in a simultaneous exhibition many years ago – that was a really cool experience as I was lucky enough to have the chance to have a bit of a chat with him after I got smashed!
Can you think of a funny moment to do with a chess?
I have seen some pretty entertaining banter which can’t be repeated here during social blitz games and transfer.
Have you travelled overseas to play? If so where?
2007 for the zonal in Fiji, 2009 for the Queenstown Classic, and 2011 for the zonal in Rotorua ( both NZ). The one event I have always wanted to get to is the Bangkok Open when it’s held on the island resorts!
What has learning to play chess as a child done to help you as an adult?
I think that it has helped me significantly in the ability to analyse something – in particular statistics and figures. Concentration is another thing that has benefitted, but probably the biggest is simply learning to be wrong and to lose….pieces used to go everywhere when I was starting out!
Can you give an instance/s of when you have seen a child/ren learn how to play chess help them in other ways.
I’ve seen many students who are on the autism spectrum learn to interact in a safe environment with others and to be able to build friendships through chess. I know we have had parents mention to us at Gardiner Chess that the confidence from playing in tournaments has then flowed back into schoolwork too.
What do you see as the main benefits of learning how to play – for a child and as an adult?
Some of the main benefits mentioned in the last couple of questions for a child. As an adult, I think that social interaction is a very underrated benefit of over the board chess – especially in this day and age.
Do you think chess is nerdy?
When I started playing, chess was definitely seen as nerdy – even when I was in high school and became captain of chess. Over the past 10 years or so however I feel that chess has become more mainstream and accepted and as such has become far less nerdy.
Below are some photos of Andrew’s chess and time at Gardiner Chess:
Australian Juniors 2002 (Sydney), Queenstown Classic 2009, The places visited around Queensland for running Inter-Schools, The handover with Justine, Graeme and Wendy, watching Arkady Dvorkavich (FIDE president) play Hughston Parle, presenting coordinator of the year to Steven Cooke of Kings CC, working with students from Homebush and Chelona and with co-organiser of the Australian Juniors 2020 Shaun Curtis.