Last update: 13-Dec-2013 3:20 am
Friday, December 13, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Taking chess to communities
The T&T Chess Association (T&TCA) is not waiting on the proposed chess-in-schools programme to popularise the celebrated mind game in the country.
Instead, the national chess body is busy with its own plans to take the sport into the communities.
DR applauds the move, since no development has occurred after the Memorandum of Understanding for introducing chess into the nation’s schools was signed in Port-of-Spain more than a year ago.
Signatories to the hopeful agreement were representatives of FIDE, the Ministry of Education and the T&TCA.
Over several months, DR himself has attempted to obtain from the Ministry a progress report on the programme. But after a futile merry-go-round from one office to the next, DR has finally abandoned the quest. The logical and unfortunate assumption to be made is that the world chess body has either forgotten or deserted its pledge to little T&T to pioneer the programme in this part of the world.
In light of this apparent “stalemate”, however, DR commends newly elected T&TCA president Anderson Gordon and his executive for moving ahead with their own plans to take the sport to the people. Instead of the nation’s schools, the Association is targeting the country’s communities as an even more effective sector for “evangelising” this socially beneficial sport.
“Our objective is to get the game into our communities and so widen its base, using our own connections, our own people and our own resources,” Gordon said.
An initial step towards this purpose is a one-day tournament of “masters”, players aged 55 and over. Alongside this event is a one-day contest of juniors who hopefully would benefit from their connection with the elders from whom, in turn, will be chosen coaches for the community effort.
As another part of the programme, Gordon reveals that a Christian church in Port-of-Spain has requested assistance from the T&TCA to organise a chess class among its younger members. Hopefully, other religious groups would follow suit.
Another part of the Association’s community outreach plan is the partnership Gordon hopes to establish with the Citizens Security Programme which operates under the Ministry of National Security. “We hope to make a presentation to them on the benefits of the sport and how they can get a chess programme going,” he said.
President Gordon also reveals the outside connections which his organisation is pursuing to secure support for its community programme. One major possibility is obtaining the services of American GM Maurice Ashley who is celebrated for his work as a chess trainer, organiser and commentator at major chess events.
Ashley’s contribution to the development of the sport in the Brooklyn and the Bronx communities of New York has turned him into something of a legend.
Through the contact of Barbados-based Allan Herbert, chairman of FIDE Development Commission, Gordon is in contact with a Ugandan GM who may also be able to play a part in the Association’s community effort.
In addition, the T&TCA president refers to a Brazilian GM who may be helpful as a result of his success in conducting a chess-in-community project in that South American country.
The Association’s agenda to expand the sport of chess into a community activity needs and deserves the fullest possible support not only from the Government and the corporate sector but also from the players themselves, particularly the seasoned seniors who have enjoyed the game and benefitted from its mind enhancing quality for decades.
They certainly should need no convincing about the sporting and social advantages of the T&TCA’s plan.
It is DR’s conviction that, at the level of the community, chess can play a beneficial role not only in widening participation in an inexpensive and engrossing sport but also in addressing a number of the country’s social problems including crime.
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