Playing chess amongst some of the world’s best has been a dream since childhood for ANU student Junta Ikeda.
Junta, studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Linguistics in the College of Arts and Social Sciences, is representing Australia at the Chess Olympiad at Tromso, Norway.
“It's a true honour to be representing Australia on the world stage in chess, following on from the great Australian players who have played for the team in the past,” he said.
Junta and ANU alumnus David Smerdon, are both competing in the Open team, while ANU undergraduate Emma Guo, who is studying a combined Arts/Science (Psychology) degree, is competing in the Women’s National Team.
The Chess Olympiad started on 1 August and finishes on 14 August.
The Chess Olympiad is played every two years and a team of 10 members is chosen by a panel of selectors. The ages of those competing for Australia in this year’s team, range from 13 to 50 years.
Junta, 22, has been competing for 10 years and earned the title of International Master earlier this year, having performed well in two international chess tournaments in Canberra and Sydney. He is now aiming to become a Grand Master.
“One of the things I love about chess would be the experience of playing an exciting game. Your total reality becomes what happens on the 64 squares in front of you, as you're totally immersed in what's happening on the chessboard,” Junta said.
“You forget everything else, and are just thinking about how you can win, or how you can hang on in defence.”
He says chess is also about providing a mixture of sport, science and art.
“But the best thing about chess is how anyone can play it - young or old, boy or girl, anywhere in the world.
“Even if you can't communicate with someone through language, you can instantly become friends playing a game of chess. I guess that's why it is such a popular game. It's great to meet other chess players when you have this whole world of chess in common through knowledge and experience.”
More information on the two tournaments can be found at the Olympiad website.