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Simpson man vs. chess master

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (July 22/05) - Speed pays for Andy Gaule, at least when playing chess.

The Fort Simpson resident collected a $50 "best in class" prize in a speed chess tournament at the Canadian Open Chess Championships in Edmonton last week.

It was a sideline event, but so was another highlight to arise from the tournament, an exhibition match pitting Ukrainian grand master Vassily Ivanchuk against 25 players at once.

Gaule was one of the people sitting across from Ivanchuk, who is the world's fifth-ranked chess player and has held a rating as high as third.

It took the grand master 37 moves to polish off Gaule as they were both down to just pawns and kings left on the board.

At one point, Ivanchuk actually paused for about 30 seconds to ponder his next move against Gaule - a compliment in itself because he generally moved very swiftly from one game to the next.

"I wasn't totally humiliated, which I thought I was going to be," said Gaule.

"That was kind of cool to play that guy."

Gaule, an unrated player competing for the first time, finished with three wins, six losses and one draw in the main tournament. He was among 222 chess enthusiasts registered for the event, which was held at the Delta Suites hotel July 9-17.

"It was an interesting event, I must admit. I think I might go to the next one," he said.

His longest match took almost six hours to complete.

"It was quite the game and I lost it. I wouldn't have minded if I had won it," a laughing Gaule said of the marathon affair. He taught himself how to play chess by reading a book when he was around seven years old, he recalled.

He keeps his game sharp by playing a few other Fort Simpson residents and many other matches on the Internet.

"You get to play people from all over the world (online)," he said.