Parajacks calling on chess grandmaster for Bowls3Five


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Mark Noble : Chess Grandmaster

Mark Noble brings a unique skillset to the Parajacks team that is contesting the second Bowls3Five televised league.

Not only is Noble a two-time Commonwealth Games silver medallist in the open para-sport triples, but he is an International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster.

“New Zealand’s only got one and I’m it,” Noble said. “That’s the version that used to be done by mail in the old days.”

Murray Chandler is New Zealand’s only “over the board” grandmaster.

“It’s a title you can never lose so it’s there forever.

“It doesn’t matter how old or how bad you get from here on in.”

But Noble, 57, is still good and finished third equal in the International Correspondence Chess Federation’s 28th world championship in 2014.

“I play online quite a bit. At the moment I’m playing in the world chess 960 world finals, which actually to be fair…is looking very promising on me being world champion.”

Noble took up chess at the age of 13, after he was hit by a car, shattering his hip and pelvis and leaving him disabled. Three years later he took up bowls and has been playing it ever since.

And despite saying “I’m a far better chess player than I am a bowler”, Noble has had unprecedented success on the green, beyond his two Commonwealth Games medals in para bowls.

“I’ve hardly played any disabled bowls at all.

“I’m normally only ever playing able bodied bowls and obviously I’ve had my fair share of winning able bodied [titles].

“I think I’ve got 25 open centre titles against able bodied [bowlers]. There wouldn’t be many para players around the world probably that have got 25 open titles.”

Mark Noble believes “being a reasonably good chess player” is a huge advantage for him in bowls, especially in his ability to concentrate.

“Concentration in bowls is ginormous. In chess we concentrate for like, in the older days probably six hours solid without having a chance to rest our mind.

“Lawn bowls is a little bit more easier because you’re not having to concentrate the whole time, but it does help for concentration levels.”

It’s a skill that should help Noble when the Parajacks make their Bowls3Five debut against the defending champion Pt Chevalier Pirates on Tuesday night (October 22).

“It won’t be easy for a couple of them who haven’t played on TV before.”

“I think it’s always hard the first time or first couple of times on the TV screen. You are inclined to start looking at it, the big screens.

“The experienced players don’t notice anymore. I’ve been lucky to actually do that a few times so you don’t notice, but it can be overpowering because the camera is right in your face.”

Fellow Gold Coast Commonwealth Games silver medallist Bruce Wakefield and Otago’s Carolyn Crawford will play alongside Noble in week one, with the other five Parajack squad members having to bide their time.

“It’s a great opportunity for the para players.”

“When you see these guys playing to the rest of the community it’s more than just special. These guys can play at a reasonably good level and beat most people.”