Chess champ Mike Brichko, 8, at home in Pierrefonds.
BY ANDY BLATCHFORD
Mike Brichko comes across as a shy, polite eight-year-old, but challenge him to a game of chess and he will take you down.
Since taking up chess three years ago, Brichko has finished strong in several chess tournaments.
The Pierrefonds resident captured the Quebec chess championship last week in the under-10 category.
He even won his household’s title a year ago. “Since last year, I can’t beat him,” said his father Alex Brichko, who thinks of himself as a good chess player. “I’m not a partner (for him) anymore, but I enjoy playing him because he’s like a teacher for me.”
The younger Brichko trains twice a week under the guidance of Montreal grand master Vahagn Voskanyan. “He’s a good student,” Voskanyan said. “He’s organized and he does his homework.”
Brichko’s classes and chess books are all in his parents’ native language of Russian.
Voskanyan said the trilingual Ecole Ste. Geneviève Grade 3 student is a tactical player who sees combinations well.
Brichko, a member of Montreal’s Chess n’ Math Association, said opposition at the three-day tournament was tough.
But from his bedroom’s décor of five trophies, three plaques and a pile of medals, he appears to be a seasoned player.
The timid champ had little to say except the reason why he turned to the competitive side of the game. “It interested me,” he said.
At home, Brichko dedicates two hours a day to studying books and diagrams.
But his days as house title-holder could be numbered. His five-year-old sister Kate has shown flashes of brilliance in the game after starting chess classes earlier this year. “Our coach says she will be first in kindergarten,” their father said. “Everybody was surprised by how good she is.”
Big brother Mike isn’t worried about her potential and has even tried offering a few tips. “She’s not a challenge for me yet,” Brichko said of his sister. “But she doesn’t listen to me.”