Should chess be funded like other sports in Canada? – CTV News

After a Canadian became a chess world champion at a time when the world’s attention is drawn to chess by headline-grabbing cheating scandals, one advocate for the game explains why it deserves funding as a sport in Canada.
Michael Hickson, an avid chess player and associate professor of philosophy at Trent University, says it’s time for Canada to invest more in the game and consider making it part of school curriculums.
“Chess has had a long history in Canada and the United States, it’s not like it’s new to this area, but it hasn’t had quite the exposure that some of our other favourite sports have had,” Hickson told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday.
Eighteen-year old Shawn Rodrigue-Lemieux of Montreal, not only won the under-18 world champion title in September, but he could also become the youngest Quebecer in history to earn the title of “grandmaster,” the highest title a chess player could have.
To become a "grandmaster," players must reach three standards including receiving a rating of 2,500 points at some point in their career, and two "norms" which are high-levels of performance ranked by the International Chess Federation (FIDE).
Hickson says Canada can learn from such countries as Russia, where chess organizations receive government funding through the ministry of sport, or Armenia, which made learning to play the game part of the public school curriculum in 2011.
Hickson believes chess should be taught in school, as it can foster development of children’s interdisciplinary skills, forcing them to not only think critically but learn to solve problems by looking from different perspectives.
“That’s what chess does,” he said. “It presents you with a concrete problem that needs to be solved, but you’ll never solve it if you think from one discipline, you have to think from all different perspectives.”
Sport Canada doesn’t consider chess a sport because it’s not a physical game, however Hickson says it can still be extremely physically and mentally exhausting as tournaments consist of multiple games in a day, with each game lasting as long as five hours.
“I’ve also played other physical sports like hockey, basketball and tennis and I can tell you there is no exhaustion like the exhaustion from a chess tournament,” he said.
While Canada has had several grandmasters in the past, according to the FIDE there are currently no Canadian players ranked in the top 100 players for October 2022. Additionally, Canada is ranked 34 in the world based on the average score ratings of each countries top 10 players.  
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