National chess champion FM Ryan Harper, assisted by ex-champion Marcus Joseph, has again made chess history, but this time not over the chessboard. Instead, the two stalwarts have jointly launched the country's first chess magazine, Ace Chess, intended primarily to serve the Caribbean chess community. In his foreword, publisher Harper gives the raison d'etre for this pioneering effort. He notes the significant evolution of chess in the region over recent years. The ÇÇÅ and ÇÅÇDEÇ, for example, have "changed the landscape." There are now more junior tournaments; the Sagicor Open in Barbados and now the Carifta Chess Games recently held in Port-of-Spain. On the open side of things, he notes, Caribbean players have opportunities at the Sub Zonals to fight for IM and FIDE Master titles.
There are also opportunities at the Continental Open to gain IM norms. Barbados has its annual Heroes Day Masters and Çup, Suriname its Rotary Open, Jamaica its Jamaica Open and now T&T its Open International. Also there is the Umada Cup which is expected to be held in Suriname this year. "This magazine," says Harper, "will try its best to cover many of these Caribbean and wider regional tournaments with the hope that it strengthens chess within the Caribbean." Double Rooks sincerely welcomes the intent and effort behind this pioneering effort. While sources of information on this globally expanding sport have multiplied with the advance of technology, the game in the Caribbean has been developing to the point where it may require its own focus of attention and concentration, a continuing relevant survey of regional chess action as an aid to the process of appreciation and growth.
In the past, one or two amateurish attempts have been made to produce a periodical on local chess, but these efforts hastily died a natural death as the manpower and expertise needed to sustain them were sadly lacking.
However, the initial appearance of Ace Chess, backed by the vision, experience and enthusiasm of publisher FM Harper and his production assistant Marcus Joseph, inspires us the hope that this magazine will eventually develop into a valuable and informative feature of chess life in the Caribbean, playing its part in lifting standards of the sport. Generally, Ace Chess offers a varied quantity of chess wisdom in its expert annotation of games played in regional events such as the T&T National Swiss 2011 and the Umada Cup 2011 and international contests such as the super GM tournaments of Tata Steel 2012 and Reggio Emilio 2012. But, as far as development of chess is concerned, the most valuable feature of the magazine may be found in its Youth section where games played in the various sections of the national age group championships are carefully and sensibly annotated, offering a teaching facility that aspiring youngsters should find quite useful.
DR believes that this aspect of Ace Chess should be comprehensively expanded. Looking to the future of the sport, the magazine could hardly undertake a more important mission than the encouragement and strengthening of the regions young players. In this context, Marcus Joseph's Tips adds positively to the value of the effort, pointing out some factors which separate the average club player from the master. Two of them: the inability to calculate well and a poor understanding of the end game. Readers should also find IM van Delft's "Guess the Move" section both entertaining and instructional. Apart from their own experience and expertise, it is good that Harper and Joseph have been able to obtain the contributing support of notables such as GM Alonso Zapata and IM Merijn van Delft. Double Rooks himself is also pleased to contribute to this brave pioneering effort, no matter how modest his input may be.
However, as the author of a weekly chess column for some seven years, he would like to offer a piece of genuine advice to the producers of Ace Chess. Over this time, DR has had to deal with the attacks of a few partisan individuals who apparently fail to realise that the democratic policies of our country should also apply to every area of sport, including chess. From that perspective, DR hopes that the operating policy of Ace Chess would be enlightened enough to recognise the efforts of all persons, groups and organisations involved in the promotion of the sport, particularly those whose track record and successes are long standing, widely accepted and, indeed, unprecedented.