Matthew Nicholson is a soldier on the battlefield of the mind. At 21, he is a master. A chess master.
The Lively native earned the title after a successful tournament in Guelph at the beginning of June. He is now one of two Sudburians proudly ranked as master by the Chess Federation of Canada.
The title is the result of a complex scoring system, classing a player's likelihood of success against other players based on wins and losses against similarly ranked opponents during tournament play.
Master class is a testament to all the time and energy Nicholson has committed to improving his game. Nicholson plays online daily, and meets with other members of the Sudbury Chess Club weekly.
He also studies strategy and goes through techniques on a regular basis.
Since he graduated from Lively District Secondary School, where he joined the chess club, Nicholson said he has found the game fascinating.
“It appealed to how competitive I am,” he said.
Unlike in team sports, Nicholson has no one to share the blame with when the outcome doesn't go the way he wants. And that's how he likes it.
While he only became competitive about chess in his teens, Nicholas learned the game as a child.
“I learned when I was four or five, watching my grandpa play,” he said.
Since his humble beginnings with the game, he has only enhanced his abilities.
He's taught himself “to be able to see all the patterns and be able to calculate” his plays. Part of that development has come from playing with Bob Kiviaho, Sudbury's only other chess master.
“He keeps me sharp,” Nicholson said.
The young chess master has been the only one to take the local title from Kiviaho in recent history. Kiviaho held the prized position for 17 years before Nicholson won it. This year, Nicholson is hoping to grow his run to three years.
When he isn't challenging himself, Nicholson is sharing his knowledge. He said he loves teaching others the basics and helping beginner players grow.
He takes great joy in being able to take those players to the “beat-my-dad level,” where they're really ready to begin playing strategically, instead of winning based on making fewer mistakes.
Nicholson and other members of the Sudbury Chess Club meet every Wednesday night at the Older Adult Centre at the YMCA on Durham Street. Nicholson said players of all levels are welcome.
For more information, phone 705-671-2090.