University Hill Secondary Grade 8 student Max Gedajlovic has been playing in chess tournaments since he was in Grade 4. Back then he was enrolled in one of the district's MAAC classes. He had a friend who invited him to play and after the first game he was hooked. His friend told him he was so good he should join a chess club.
Since then Gedajlovic has practiced steadily two hours a day solving chess puzzles, testing himself with internet opponents and studying strategy and formations in chess books. All the hardwork has started to pay off. This school year the budding chess player headed to Gyor, Hungary to play in the U16 Chess Olympiad on Team Canada. During his time there he played nine of ten games and placed 14 of 150 players from around the world. During one match he was even awarded a "Brilliancy Award" for his strategic play.
After a grueling day of chess, Gedajlovic says he relaxes by playing pool or playing "blitz tournaments" with other teammates and competitors.
Then it's back to the board for another high pressure game. Gedajlovic says his play is generally built around bigger picture plans, rather than trying to anticipate his opponents future moves.
"I focus on what I want to do in the position. If I can expand the pawns in the centre, I know I'll have a space advantage," he says.
Currently the young chess player is 22 points away from becoming a candidate master. After that, he hopes to work towards the next ranking of life master, which he hopes to reach in the next year. It is a goal that'll require a lot of travel. Already Gedajlovic says he travels three to four times a year to places across the USA and as far away as Italy and Malta to compete. But he says the travel is worth it because of the type of games he gets to play. Vancouver has plenty of strong chess players, but not that many elite players.
"I'm really happy I got the experience to travel around and see different cultures as well," he says. "It is good to get a chance to play against top level players as it improves your own game."
To watch a short video about the Chess Olympiad, click here or below: