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Foundation plays productive game

Thursday, June 5, 2014
Youngsters learn to play the game at the Chess Foundation’s Let’s Play Chess programme at the National Library, Port-of-Spain.

The effort to incorporate chess into the sporting agenda of the Diego Martin community and beyond continues at the Diamond Vale Secondary School. The programme had a successful start three months ago at the Carenage Community Centre where some 22 youngsters were taught to play the game, forming the nucleus of what is expected to be the country’s first community-based chess club. Now the initiative moves to Diamond Vale where the T&T Chess Foundation has begun a fresh series of classes hoping to introduce the celebrated mind game to the folk of that popular western settlement.


“We are hoping that more Diamond Valers and members of the surrounding community, including parents and children, would appreciate this opportunity to learn a sport they would not only enjoy but also benefit from as it teaches many lessons for life,” said Edison Raphael, president of the Foundation. “And the classes are absolutely free.”


A keen partner in this history-making programme, the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, sees chess as enhancing its sporting agenda and its mission to engage the youth of its area in a range of positive and productive activity.


Classes at the Diamond Vale Secondary School are held every Saturday starting at 2 pm, conducted by Carlyle Singh, veteran player and experienced chess teacher-coach. Last Saturday, DR was pleasantly surprised to find among Singh’s “students” the T&T Chess Association secretary Debra Walcott, mother of Della Marie Walcott, one of the country’s leading female juniors. Mrs Walcott showed an admirable keeness in learning the game and DR can only wish her well in this regard. Who knows? If she takes the classes seriously, she may soon be giving Della a lot of trouble over the chessboard. 


The country, in fact, must owe a debt of gratitude to Raphael and the Chess Foundation for the singular contribution they have been making to promote the playing and appreciation of the royal game in T&T over the last twelve years. Since the organisation was launched in 2002, it has helped to produce dozens of first class juniors at its training facility on Brabant Street and hundreds of young aspirants in its free Let’s Play Chess sessions at the National Library and across the country. Also, the Foundation’s annual Chess Carnival has emerged as one of the most popular open tournaments among junior players of the Caribbean region.


Now the Foundation, in partnership with RHAND Credit Union, is playing a significant role in efforts to revive the royal game in Tobago. As a logical follow-up to last year’s Chess-in-Schools programme sponsored by RHAND, the Foundation has organised the Rhand Scholastic Open, a major event inviting Under 20 players from all over the country and offering a prize fund of $16,000. This contest, the first of its kind to be held in the island, comes off on July 5 and 6 at the Pentecostal Light and Life Secondary School in Scarborough. As part of this revival, Raphael is also assisting in the formation of a chess club in Tobago. 


Also, thanks to the organisational strength of the Foundation, the Indian Arrival Day chess tournament has become another popular event among the country’s juniors.


DR lends his fullest support for the Foundation’s committment to spreading the sport of chess among the nation’s youngsters. As far as achievements in the royal game go, T&T’s can only be described as modest. We are yet, in fact, to produce an International Master or any player having a notable impact on the international scene. Our results at the Olympiad tell a rather dismal story.


The Foundation’s mission, then, in taking the celebrated mind game to our young people must be regarded as our best possible hope, not only in unearthing future chess super stars but, even more vitally, in enhancing the educational process and so aid in the national development of our country. 


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