The Canterbury competitions started in Christchurch possibly by the New Zealand Chess Association, now called the New Zealand Chess Federation. The competitions are unique in New Zealand. They are long-running and are mostly run and organised by local schools. Elsewhere in New Zealand it is the local chess clubs that run the competitions.


Alvin Hollander, President of the NZ Chess Association, approached The Press to take over and sponsor the competition. The Press agreed and Bob Schumacher of the sports section was appointed to organise it. 12 teams entered. There was one grade made up of all the big high schools, Heaton Intermediate and St Margaret’s. The top four placings in the first year went to Shirley Boys’, Christchurch Boys’, St Bede’s then Cashmere. Long standing high schools taking part since the competitions began have been Burnside, Christchurch Boys’, Christ’s College, Shirley Boys’ St Andrew’s and St Bede’s.

Late 1970s to early 80s

With an increase in teams the A & B grades were introduced. 40 teams regularly entered the competitions.


The C grade made up of intermediates only was introduced. The first two placings went to Heaton and Cobham, with Cobham being the longest playing intermediate since.

1985 to 1988

The girls’ grade was introduced. In the inaugural year St Margaret’s had the top placing. At least four schools were needed for a separate grade so girls’ schools entered in the B grade in subsequent years.


After a twenty-eight year relationship, sponsorship of the competitions moved from Bob Schumacher, Sports to Press Newspapers in Education (NIE).

The Girls competition was re-introduced and open to schools at primary, intermediate and high school level. The top placing in the first year went to Burnside High with four teams entering.


The Primary competition was introduced although some primary schools were able to compete in the intermediate competition in previous years. Twenty-four teams entered in this first year with Ilam taking the title.


The primary and intermediate level saw entrants from all over Canterbury plus Nelson/Marlborough taking part. Interest was so high that most schools could only put in one team and schools that entered late missed out.

The Girls competition was separated into primary, intermediate and high school competitions with three shields for the winners and a cup for the overall champion. Kirkwood was overall champion and the intermediate winner, Ilam the primary winner and Burnside the high school winner.

The NZ Chess Federation commenced national competitions. Chess clubs organised Primary, Intermediate and Secondary competitions in their districts to get regional champions who then played each other for the North and South Island titles. The North and South Island champions played each other for the NZ titles at primary and intermediate level.

As there were no other South Island inter school competitions, The Canterbury competition winners represented the South Island at the NZ Championship.


Zones were introduced to the Primary, Intermediate & Secondary competitions with a full day zone event, half day zone semi final and then a full day final.

The Inter School Chess Charitable Trust was established by Jacinta Buist with five teachers and Jacinta as Trustees.


The competitions names changed from Primary, Intermediate & Secondary to Years 1-6, Years 7-8 and Years 9-13.

After a five year involvement, at the end of 2003, Jacinta Buist stood down from organising the Years 1-6, Years 7-8 and Girls’ Competitions.


The Inter School Chess Charitable Trust took over the organising of the competitions for Years 1-6 and Years 7-8. The organising committee was lead by Jeremy Bloomfield (Russley) and was comprised mainly of the teachers who were running the zone competitions.


The Press Chess Girls' Competition was discontinued. A separate girls' competition was run by Jacinta Buist as part of the NZ Chess Federation Girls' Chess Week.

Year 7 to 8 inter school competitions were run in Otago. Cobham Intermediate beat Dunedin North Intermediate to win the South Island final.


Home schooled pupils entered the competition for the first time.

Separate North and South Island finals were discontinued. Regional teams travelled to Hamilton to compete for the NZ title. The highest placed teams from each island were awarded the North and South Island titles. Our Windsor and Cobham teams were awarded the South Island titles.


At the end of 2007, the last of the original teachers, Jeremy Bloomfield (Russley) and Tim Kuipers (Hillview), stepped down from the Trust's organising committee, marking the end of the Trust as being a teacher lead organisation. By this time parents of past players had already been drawn more and more into the organising of the Year 1-6 and Year 7-8 competitions, particularly Lynne Abel (Burnside/Cobham) and Simon Ward (Russley).

2008 to 2010

Parents Simon Ward (Russley) and Wayne Pierce (Windsor) organised the Year 1-6 and Year 7-8 competitions, with Warwick Fussell (Cobham) assisting as the teacher representative. Teachers continued to run 70 to 80 percent of the competitions, with the balance being run by Simon Ward and Jacinta Buist.

Also in 2010

Separate South Island finals were re-introduced by Ken Pow and were well supported. Multiple teams from Canterbury, Otago and Southland travelled to Ashburton to compete.

The National finals were hosted at Christchurch Boys' High School, a few weeks after the 7.1 Canterbury earthquake.

Jacinta Buist re-joined the Trust's organising committee at the end of 2010.

The Press ended its long running sponsorship of the competitions.


The earthquakes continued, thousands of them, including the devastating quake of February 22. Schools continued to strongly support the chess competitions, particularly those in the hardest hit areas. Unfortunately some events ended up being cancelled due to snow!

The earthquakes marked another major change for the Trust with most of the Trust's competitions no longer being run by teachers.

While this history page is mainly focused on the primary / intermediate competitions, as the page is from the Trust's point of view, 2011 also saw a major change for the high school competitions. The high schools run their competitions with longer games and weekly rounds. Prior to 2011, opposing teams would travel to their opponent's high school to play. In 2011 the high schools started using the Canterbury Chess Club as the venue for all their matches. They were organised and run by Euan Quaid (Cashmere HS).


The Inter School Chess Charitable Trust took over the running of the Girls' Competitions again.

Special thanks to the senior the students who helped run the 2012 competitions, particularly Rebecca Dent (ex Halswell) and the Rains family of Ed, Tim and Jess (ex Fendalton/Cobham).


The A grade zones of the Years 1-6 and Years 7-8 competitions were separated from the B grade zones and run in term 2 with finals early in term 3. This was to provide the winning schools with more time for organising travel to the national finals. The B grade zones were run in term 3 at the usual time.


Zones for the A grades where replaced with a single day competition to select the Years 1-6 and Years 7-8 teams for nationals. The interest was so high that the A grade entries needed to be cut back to one team per school per section.



For the first time competitions were ran outside of a school venue, at Te Hāpua Halswell Centre. A new event for individual players, competing by year group, was also introduced.