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GM training for city players

Thursday, January 30, 2014
Woodford Square chess players at the launch of Promenade Chess Club’s advanced training programme at Arena Restaurant, Henry Street, Port-of-Spain. From left, Keith James, Hayden Lee, Lennon Griffith, Double Rooks and Michael Peters.

Woodford Square chess players now have an opportunity to improve their skills through a programme of advanced training launched last Saturday by the Promenade Chess Club. 


According to Hayden Lee, president of the club, it is the first initiative of its kind and, while it is primarily intended for regular players in the city, anyone of any age wishing to benefit from the comprehensive chess course would be welcome. The DVD programmes, produced by GM Damion Lemos, are being shown every Saturday, starting at 2pm, at the Arena Restaurant at 74 Henry Street, Port-of-Spain.


“The thing about chess, as in all sports, is that the better you can play the more you will enjoy the game,” said Lee. Most of the chess players who frequent Woodford Square and Morgan’s spot at the corner of Lara Promenade and Henry Street are true lovers of the sport who enjoy playing among themselves, but the level of their skills will not improve without the kind of advanced training the Promenade Club is now offering, Lee observed.


Chess is a mind game that is relatively easy to learn; once you know the basic rules and how to move the pieces you can play. But it is not an easy game to know how to play really well. “That is why tournament players are rated and why lovers of the sport need to study to improve, to learn from professional coaches and grandmasters,” the Promenade president said.


Hence the reason why his club has decided to offer “grassroots” players in the capital city an opportrunity to play better chess by learning from a well known chess instructor. Lemos, an Argentinian, is a former Pan American Junior Champion. His entry into the top ranks of the sport was impressive, gaining the FM title at 14, IM status at 15 and entering the GM ranks at 18.


“What we are offering chess players in the city is an advanced course covering every aspect of the game, from the openings to the endgame,” Lee noted. “This programme is unique, I believe it is the first time in our history that training at this level is being made available to groups of players thanks to computer technology. In the past, grandmasters have visited our shores and held simultaneous exhibitions, but our course is different; what GM Lemos is giving is expert advice on every department of the game including strategies of attack and defence.”


And the entire programme is absolutely free, said Lee. “In this respect, the Promendade Chess Club is grateful to the Arena Restaurant for making its premises available for holding this event,” he added.


In addition to the training sessions, the club will air the movie Life of a King starring Academy Award Winner Cuba Gooding jnr who plays an ex-convict who succeeds in overcoming a string of setbacks and disappointments through the inspiration he has gained from playing chess. The movie is based on a true story, on the life of Eugene Brown who had spent 17 years in a Washington prison for armed robbery.


All Brown had going for him was his love for chess which he learned from a fellow inmate and his desire to “make things right” after making so many mistakes. As fate would have it, while working as a high school janitor, Brown was put in charge of a group of recalcitrant pot-dealing high school students in detention. How he was able to change the lives of these troubled teens—one of whom became chess champion of Washington State—and establish a successful community chess house is the inspiring heart of the movie.


Life of a King has a parallel story line to another movie, Knights of South Bronx, which Lee showed to a group of children at Laventille last year. The Promenade president, a former executive member of the T&TCA, has become a leading one man promoter of the sport. Now he plans to take the movie to the county’s schools. 


“These movies are dramatic real-life illustrations of the power of chess to change lives; hopefully, they would not only encourage our youngsters to take up the game but also to benefit from the lessons it teaches.”



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