Close your eyes, imagine going back to August 31, 1962, seated in the Red House in Port-of-Spain in the presence of the Princess Royal as then prime minister Dr Eric Williams gave his iconic...
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Eight-year-old sets indelible record
It was a memorable year for eight-year-old chess player Rayden Rampersad.
The Under-8 national champion added lustre to his name not only by the breadth of his participation in the sport but, more impressively, by the records that he has set at his level of the game.
To begin with, Rayden emerged the Under-8 absolute National Junior Champion and, in doing so, he earned a FIDE rating of 1448, becoming the youngest player in the country with such a distinction.
In August he set another indelible record in the Under-8 section of the CAC Youth Chess Festival held in Trinidad, gaining the title of Candidate Master, the youngest ever T&T chessist to gain such status.
At the same time he won a silver medal for placing second overall on the tie-break.
For his age, young Rampersad has shown an enormous appetite for the royal game, playing in tournaments at home and abroad.
The reason for this, no doubt, is the coaching and competitive spirit he has experienced as a member of the GMPS Chess Club run by David Martin, former President of the T&T Chess Association.
At the Caribbean Chess Carnival held at the Queen’s Park Oval, Rayden again distinguished himself placing second in the Under 10 category.
He was also able to hold his own in the rapid-play arena, taking seventh place in the Under 12 section of the AIB tournament, sixth spot in the same category of the Indian Arrival Day One-Day contest, sixth again in the First Flight Air Ambulance Invitational One Day Rapid Play and fifth in the Central Vikings One Day event.
In most of these contests he played in categories higher than his own and had to meet a number of stronger players. He was back in winner’s row in the Paladins Primary School Individual Competition, playing in the Under 10 group.
In his sojourns abroad, representing T&T, Rayden also enjoyed good results.
He placed 15th among 52 players in the Under 8 class of the Pan Am Youth Tournament and seventh overall among the Under 8s in the Carifta Youth Contest. Although the youngster failed to get the Player of the Year nomination from a selection committee appointed by the T&TCA, Rayden should be pleased with his performance at home and abroad.
He has set records in the sport that will remain on the history books forever, records that should mark not only his youthful talent but also as a future national champion of T&T. However, David Martin, coach of the GMPS Chess Club, admits frankly that he lacks the expertise to take his charges beyond the 1600 level and certainly not in the IM class.
“The sport as a whole is stifled by the lack of higher level training,” he noted.
“That is the reason why our outstanding players prefer to pursue higher level education than continue their chess careers.”
Most likely that is the course that Rayden would take, he added. Now, however, the youngster is a model member of the GMPS club even assisting him in teaching newcomers in the fundamentals of the game.
“Chess is Rayden’s first love,” says Martin.
“He has an enormous potential for the sport with a bright future in it, but I think he will eventually have to follow the pattern set by other outstanding players.”