Former Aspley Local Justin Turner Climbs in Australian Chess Players Ranking

Justin Turner
Photo Credit: Supplied

Justin Turner, a former Dux of Aspley East State School, has climbed the ranking of Australian chess players after gaining a chess rating of 1873 following two successful tournaments in Spain.

The son of Madeleine Turner of Aspley is now in the top 160 Australian chess players after he managed to tie in 6th place at an Alicante tournament for Under 2200, where he won in the final game against a player with a 2020 chess rating. 

Prior to the tournament, Justin was ranked 26th among the entrants consisting of 89 players from 10 countries. 

He then competed in the Under 2400 tournament in Valencia, where he finished 3rd place among 101 entrants, beating the 4th seed with only 15 moves. His competition was a 12-year-old prodigy, who had gained 800 points in a year to be currently rated at 2214. 

The wins come after Justin had a successful season at the Valencian Chess League, where won against a player rated 2040 in the final round in May, where eight teams from 70 clubs in the Valencia Region competed in five divisions. 

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Justin worked as a former civil engineer before deciding to shift careers and re-train as a teacher of English as a second language. He flew to Valencia in Spain a few days before the pandemic lockdown in March 2020 and found a place to live off his savings for more than a year.

The move, however, accorded Justin a Spanish Government contract as an English language teaching assistant for the 2021 to 2022 school year, which was recently renewed for another full year until 2023.

“The primary school at which I worked last year, and again for another year from this October, has a special focus on chess,” Justin said. “I did not know that before being assigned to that school. There is a dedicated room for chess tables and about 80% of the children play regularly.”

Justin Turner
Photo Credit: Steve Buissine/Pixabay

Students who finished their tasks in the classrooms may choose to play chess. During the end-of-school-year activities, Justin played 12 games simultaneously in each class.

Justin Turner has pretty much established a routine in his life in Spain: three hours of chess study; three hours studying languages, Spanish and Italian; and five hours at school.

“Despite the frustrations, I find the successes that come with working with young people are more enjoyable than being bound in an office faced with computer-aided design for much of the working days.

“For example, in May one new student arrived from Ukraine. I played some chess with him. Teachers are struggling a bit, given that he speaks Ukrainian and a few words in English, but zero Spanish. Not ideal but at least he’s safe from bombs.

“I decided to let him win the second game. It’s amazing how hard it is to lose on purpose, given I spend 3 hours a day studying how to win. Winning is like a natural reflex. 

“I let him take my Queen but it got a smile out of him when he checkmated me.”