A Russian-born chess champion will play 12 games simultaneously tomorrow to raise the sport’s profile in New Zealand.

Jennya Charomova, 30, has moved from Moscow to Christchurch to study speech therapy at the University of Canterbury.

The former New Zealand women’s chess champion has joined the Canterbury Chess Club and is starting to coach local children.

And as part of her trying to spread her love of the game, and raise money for the Aphasia New Zealand Charitable Trust, she will take on 12 players on a dozen different games at once in May.

“I would like more kids to play chess. It is a very beautiful sport,” says Charomova who grew up in a chess loving family in a country where the board game is a near national pastime.

Her father taught her the names of the pieces when she was just 1 and she played her first chess game against her mother as a toddler.

At 6, she was travelling around Russia playing competitively in tournaments.

“I have always been drawn to it,” says Charomova.

“There is a lot of logic, creativity and concentration involved. It is the type of game you can play on the computer or as part of a social event.”

She has competed in some major global tournaments, including the 2001 World Chess Festival in Spain and in 2002, the 35th Chess Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia. In 2005 she was crowned New Zealand women’s champion.

The former Westlake Girls High School student’s family moved to New Zealand when she was 12 after a sailing expedition around the world.

Over the years, she has been tutored by some top coaches, including Anatoliy Shvedchikov at Octyabarskiy Chess Club in Moscow where she has worked for the past five years.

Now, she wants to give something back to the game she loves in New Zealand.

The public, both adults and children, are invited to tomorrow’s event at New Brighton Library in Christchurch where Charomova will take on 12 plucky challengers.

Charomova isn’t daunted by the challenge, saying she is able to switch focus to each game as she walks between boards.

                                                            By Kurt Bayer, 

                                      NZ Herald reporter based in Christchurch