DOUBLE ROOKS can only hope that the lessons to be learned from the special general meeting of the T&T Chess Association (T&TCA) held last Sunday will be fruitfully digested both by members of its executive and club officials who attended. The two main issues that were aired during more than three hours of intense discussion were already well known as they arose from pressing circumstances and approaches within the organisation that needed to be resolved.
As far as the resignation of PRO Alpacino Smith is concerned, it seemed to DR that as an active university student, attracted by the competing interests of his age, he may not have had the maturity or commitment needed to undertake the somewhat humdrum duties required of the T&TCA's public relations officer.
Young Smith's difficulties, it seems, arose largely from the demands of his youth and they provide a lesson for the Association as a whole to be more discerning in the election of officers to undertake the many functions of the administration.
On the other hand, club members would be wise not to accept nomination to office in the Association if they are not prepared to make a genuine contribution to the progress of the national body and the sport.
As for the other main problem respecting issue of MYSA grants to assist the nation's young and talented players obtain advanced training and compete in tournaments abroad, there is certainly the need for streamlining the process with the Ministry.
In retrospect, it seems grossly discriminatory for MYSA to have in place a working system for assisting players from "underprivileged" areas to participate in overseas tournaments, even those without any consistent achievements in the sport, while proven champions with multiple titles have to be subjected to a legalistic, time-consuming process before they can benefit from ministry assistance to advance their careers and bring glory to our country in the international chess arena.
The futile four-month rigmarole that Vishnu Singh, T&T's first International Master, and Javanna Smith, both multiple chess champions, were subjected to in seeking travel grants from the Ministry is, in DR's view, was quite scandalous. Comparisons may be odious but sometimes quite chastening; a virtual novice from an "underprivileged" area readily obtains a grant to travel and play abroad, but two of the country's chess stars with impressive victories to their names get a frustrating runaround.
Suddenly, the Ministry demanded "criteria" for the two well-known champions. But why? What difference would this sudden requirement make particularly in a situation where time was of the essence? Could the Ministry not have facilitated the two players and instituted the "criteria" provision anytime afterwards? Also, DR is not impressed with the cooperation that parents of the players received from the T&TCA executive in their anxious pursuit of the grants. There was no indication at Sunday's meeting that the Association had made any effort whatever to convince the Ministry of the need to assist the young chess champions in their quest for greater achievements abroad.
In the heat of the discussion, in fact, Russell Smith, father of Javanna and Secretary of FIDE Americas, remarked that the story would have been a different one had the youngsters involved been the children executive members.
As DR observed at the beginning, these two unfortunate episodes have important lessons to be learned by all the parties involved.