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Monday, June 3, 2013

NZ Chess Master Vivian Joyce Smith Receives Order of Merit

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2013

Hi everyone, 

Vivian Joyce Smith of Mount Maunganui has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to chess. Vivian Smith is a World Chess Federation women’s chess master who encouraged women’s chess in New Zealand. Vivian played in her first National Chess Championship in 1978 and played as Third Board for the New Zealand Women’s Chess team at the Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires the same year.

She represented New Zealand at 15 Olympiads, most recently in 2010 at Khanty-Mansisk in Siberia as a player and manager of the women’s team. She earned the title of FIDE Candidate Master in 2005 and the Women’s FIDE Master Title in 2008. She won her first New Zealand Championship in 1982, followed by a further nine championship wins, and joint first placing in the 2007 New Zealand Seniors’ Chess Championship.

She was elected to the management committee of the New Zealand Chess Federation in 2001. She initiated ‘Girls’ Weeks’: a week-long programme of chess for schoolgirls in both Auckland and Christchurch. From having no female titled players in 2001, New Zealand now has six titled female players including Women’s International master Sue Maroroa, a former student of Vivian’s. She has promoted inter-school chess competitions in Auckland and nationwide.

The Mount Maunganui resident first played chess when her brother was given a set as a child but she did not take the game seriously until she was 27. "I think I'm the only New Zealander that's ever got a medal at an olympiad. That was probably my biggest highlight," she was quoted as telling the media.

"The great thing about chess is seeing the world over a chess board, I've been to places that I never dreamed of like Siberia. Crazy places."

The mother of three moved to Mount Maunganui with her husband, Bob, three years ago but still travels to Auckland to play with the West Auckland chess club, of which the couple are life members. She no longer plays competitively but remains a part of the chess scene.

"I've been working on trying to encourage more people to play. It's such an exciting game. It's a real adventure you never know what's going to happen."

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