Checkmate, brother!

Sibling rivalry takes to the chess board
Alan Campbell, Special to Surrey Now Published: Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Joshua Doknjas swiveled playfully round and round on his school principal’s office chair.

He paused, momentarily, to draw attention to his Spider Man T-shirt, before his wide-eyed gaze is diverted to brother, John, sitting right next to him.

John was out of breath, fresh from recess in the school yard, most likely from playing soccer or on the monkey bars.

The pair nudged each other under the table and argued over nothing much – just like any other young siblings.

On the surface Joshua, five, and John, eight, appear to be your average brothers.

But the production of a portable chess board and pieces from their mom Victoria’s bag changed everything. An air of anticipation immediately surrounded the boys.

Within a few seconds the eager pair had arranged the board and slid into their seats. Their childlike mannerisms were replaced by intense concentration as the game began.

John Doknjas, left, challenges brother Joshua to a game of chess as their principal Vanessa Jaggi watches.  Photograph by : Alan Campbell/For the Now

Joshua is the provincial and Fraser Valley chess champion, while John is also Fraser Valley’s best, finished third nationally and regularly beats adults members at his Langley Chess Club.

There is nothing average about the Doknjas brothers. John has been playing chess since he asked his parents, Victoria and Dave, to teach him four years ago.

At the tender age of eight, his dad can no longer beat him at chess, while his mom gives him a run for his money.

“I prefer to play against the older people as I think I get better at chess,” John said.

John also toys with the grown-ups at his chess club, where he’s taken out the president and the treasurer among others.

“I’ve been playing for 50 years and he’s beaten me and other adults here,” said Hugh Long, club president. “I’ve never seen anyone with his ability though in all my years and I can see him being a top player in no time at all.”

However, it may not be the adults that John need worry about. He maybe should be looking over his shoulder at younger brother Joshua.

He’s already the best kindergarten player in B.C. and lets his big bro know about it.

“I beat (John) once,” Joshua said, “He’s hard to play against though. He’s good.”

It’s an act of victory that John is very quick to qualify when hearing Joshua’s claims.

“Yeah, once in about a million games,” John said.

And it might not be long before the Fraser Heights family’s youngest, Neil, three, reaches from his stroller for a knight or queen.

“Dave and I are very proud of the boys,” mom said. “The main thing at the moment is having them in all kinds of different activities and letting them choose what they like.

“But they seemed to take to chess the most. Maybe it’s because it’s a game that can involve all of the family.”

© Surrey Now 2008