1951 Canadian Chess Championship

By: Stefan (Steve) Sklenka
4/12/2021 4:43:07 PM

While Calgary will submit a bid on August 1st, 2021 to host the 2023 Canadian Open Chess Championship in Calgary, the first Canadian Open was held in 1956 in Montreal when 88 players participated in the newly formed tournament. 


But before that other tournaments have taken place to determine the best Canadian chess player in Canada. 


70 years ago in 1951 the Canadian Closed Chess Championship was held in Vancouver to determine just that. 


The winner was Povilas (Paul) Vaitonis, five-time Lithuanian champion, and twice Canadian champion. 


In 1948, he emigrated to Canada and settled in Hamilton, Ontario. 


Canada’s first grandmaster Abe Yanofsky came in fourth and Alberta champion Walter Holowach came in 11th. 


Seated at the extreme right is Dr. Nathan Divinsky, who’s a prominent figure in Canadian chess history. 


He was a university math professor who at one time was the editor of the “Canadian chess chat” magazine.


He was also a married to Kim Campbell, Canada’s 19th Prime Minister of Canada. 


All four players have been inducted to the Canadian Chess Hall of Fame which was founded in 2000 by David Cohen. 




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