Photographic Memory: Coralie is an impressive young chess player

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For this weekly series looking back over their exceptionally long careers, our Montreal Gazette photographers were asked to pick out their favourites — and to tell us about how they got made and what they mean to them.

Little Coralie, 7, and her determination to win in chess made Allen McInnis’s day back in 2017 when he was looking for a good front-page feature photo.

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McInnis was on assignment on a slow news day to come up with the shot that would grip readers, but had come up mostly empty on the day.

“Feature pictures are tough,” he said. “Sometimes, you’ll see a great picture and by the time you park your car, it’s gone.”

Frustrated from a day when inspiration seemed to elude him, McInnis walked over from his mobile office to the Atwater Market to get lunch. On his way back, he was intrigued by a group of children playing chess. When he spotted Coralie, he knew she was going to be the subject of his shot of the day. Fortunately, her father was present to give permission for the photograph to be published.

The expressions in her face as she pondered each move impressed McInnis. The blue blanket draped around her helped tell the story of her determination to take her time to think through her moves, despite the cold weather.

“She was playing against an instructor as part of a summer camp activity. It was cold, and kinda windy and she just wasn’t giving up. I admired her determination. I just waited patiently for her to react.

“She was thinking two or three moves ahead, which totally blew me away for such a young kid. Sure enough, the teacher made a move and she made this face.”

He said the girl’s facial expressions tell the whole story, and made for a great front-page picture.

“I said goodbye to the dad, and she ignored me. She was so focused.”

McInnis also posted the shot on Instagram where it became a hit.

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