You are here
Chess comes to Tobago schools
An initiative to introduce the sport of chess to secondary school students of Tobago was formally launched last Thursday with the presentation of chess sets and demonstration boards to each of the island’s four institutions.
The programme, sponsored by Rhand Credit Union and aptly named Rhand’s Scholastic Chess Challenge, is a joint venture with the T&T Chess Foundation which has been training youngsters in the mind game for more than a decade. DR welcomes this pioneer development which, based on modern research, should surely impact positively on the social and cognitive skills of the young people involved.
The ceremonial launching was held in the Ministry of Education’s conference centre, Scarborough, and attended by officials of Rhand, the Chess Foundation, the Tobago House of Assembly and a representative gathering of students.
In his feature address, councillor Huey Cadette, Assistant Secretary of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports, committed the support of the THA for the programme, adding that the assembly was willing to partner with anyone seeking to build a better society in Tobago.
He spoke about the benefits of chess in enhancing the education process, instilling discipline, the ability to focus, patience, honesty, courage and the spirit of never giving up.
President of Rhand Martin Minguel, in his welcome address, said the programme highlights a primary focus of Rhand’s board, the education of its membership. He recalled that at its last AGM in March 2012, the credit union had amended its bye-laws to accept membership from the age of ten.
He noted that “the collective management of Rhand sees this venture as an opportunity and a vehicle to foster development of young minds by introducing them to strategy and analytic thinking instead of other adverse alternatives readily available in their immediate environments.”
Minguel credited the effort of general manager David Maynard in pioneering and championing the Scholastic Chess Challenge and thanked the THA for its blessings which allowed Rhand to fulfill this dream.
In a special presentation, university student and national scholarship winner Rafael Guerrero gave a candid account of how chess helped to shape his life and aid his academic skills. (Read his full story in next week’s DR’s column).
Edison Raphael, T&TCF president, gave a brief history of the Foundation whose mission, he said, is to “use chess as a medium to help develop critical thinking skills, build self esteem, engender discipline, foster positive social skills, promote academic achievement and so empower children to succeed.”
In pursuit of this, he added, the Chess Foundation conducts training programmes throughout Trinidad primarily, “and we are excited to be here to partner with Rhand Credit Union in bringing this Scholastic Chess Challenge to Tobago.”
In answering the question of why invest in chess, Raphael referred to a recent article in the London Daily Mail entitled “Chess returns to the timetable.” The subhead reads “Schools reintroduce chess in attempt to improve children’s brainpower.”
Chess, the article reports, is back with a vengeance. In just two years, 175 schools across England and Wales have introduced formal teaching in chess. This development follows research suggesting the “game of kings” brings a range of educational benefits including improved concentration and memory.
According to Malcolm Pein, project director, chess in the UK fell out of favour in the 1980s, as did lots of extra-curricular activities, when there was a big falling out between the government and teachers, and it didn’t recover. Now chess is growing in schools in England and Wales “because there is increasing awareness among teachers that it’s a very good thing.” It is also used as an antidote to “the restless rise of videogames.”
Raphael announced that participants in Rhand’s Scholastic Chess Challenge would have the opportunity to play in two major tournaments later in the year. While Rhand provides participating schools with chess equipment to facilitate the formation of chess clubs, the foundation would train the teachers who, in turn, would prepare their students for the challenge.
The T&TCF president reminded students that Tobago had produced top national players in the past, some of whom had achieved high levels in their academic and professional careers. He mentioned, for example, Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Dr Anthony Birchwood, Research Fellow at the Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance.
He told teachers that their participation in the programme was one of the most important decisions they could make since they would be engaging their students in an activity “that will have a significant positive impact on their lives,” the development of critical thinking skills.
James Baptiste, Rhand Tobago Branch Manager, recalled the fierce chess competition among Tobago schools in the 80s and how the mind game helped him to become one of the best maths students at Signal Hill Senior Comprehensive.
He said the revival of the sport through the Chess Challenge was fired by the passion of General Manager Maynard who had donated 50 chess books to the THA Chief Secretary for setting up a chess library in the island.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.