GREGORY BOYCE, vice president of the T&T Chess Association,
will represent Trinidad and Tobago at the FIDE Congress
which will be held simultaneously with the Chess Olympiad
at Turin, Italy, from May 20 to June 4. The Congress is
significant for the decision it will take on the future
leadership of the world chess body. Dr Boyce will cast TTs
vote in the election for the presidency which is a contest
between the incumbent and the challenger, prominent Dutch
businessman Jessel Kok who has dubbed his campaign, The
What position the T&T Chess Association, an affiliate
of FIDE, has taken on this issue is not known within the
general chess community and this, we think, is quite unfortunate.
The Association, after all, is not the committee that administers
the sport on a national level. It comprises all the affiliate
clubs to whom the issue of the FIDE elections should have
been presented and from whom a consensus should have been
In other words, the Association should have summoned a general
meeting of its membership to discuss this matter and to
reach a decision that reflects the majority view. Simple
democracy should have required nothing less. The conduct
of the T&TCA in its approach to the FIDE Congress shows
once again that accountability is not one of its distinguishing
So how will T&TCA vote? Will the Association support
the status quo and the incumbent administration from whom
it has received considerable assistance, including financing
for a chess training centre which was established at Chaguanas.
On the other hand, has the Asscociation been persuaded by
the active campaigning conducted a few months ago by visiting
English Grandmaster Nigel Short on behalf of the challenger?
During his stay in Jamaica, Barbados and T&T, Short,
was highly critical of the present FIDE regime, accusing
members of mismanagement and corruption and failing to give
enough support to promoting chess in developing countries..
The English GM, who was beaten by Kasparov in a bid for
the World Championship, held the view that Kok should be
applauded for his efforts to re-unite the chess world. There
is no doubt, the GM said, that he is the man
best equipped to become the next FIDE president.
We can only hope that the T&T Chess Association has
given this matter its most serious consideration and has
taken a decision on this election based on the best interest
of the world-wide chess movement.
As far as the Olympiad is concerned, we expect that our
team which have been selected on their performance in last
years national contest and other open tournaments
will strive to improve on T&Ts record of performance
which, frankly speaking, is far from impressive. Veteran
Cecil Lee will manage the team comprising of national champion
FM Ryan Harper, NM Christo Cave, NM Yogendranath Ramsingh,
FM Mario Merritt, Ravishen Singh and Dr Eddison Chang.
Former Olympian John Raphael will serve as captain of the
womens team which includes Jayne Kennedy, Arlene Blackman,
Camille Chong and Lyndy Ann Guiseppi.
If the Olympiad may be used as a measure of the level of
chess skill in T&T, then it reveals, in the first place,
how far we have to go to reach anything close to international
standards and, secondly, the need to expose our players
to consistent international coaching and competition to
attain that level. But these necessary objectives can only
be achieved with adequate support and funding.
It seems unfortunate that the authorities and the corporate
community are yet to appreciate the social and psychological
benefits which chess, perhaps more than any other sport,
can bring to our expanding young population and our country
tell the tale
CHONG, among the first to qualify for the national chess
championship finals this year, is a keen student of the
game. Apart from his strong individual skill over the board,
Kurtis is a dedicated qualified coach who bristles with
ideas for the development of the sport in Trinidad and Tobago.
I welcome his contribution to the Arena chess page which
reviews T&Ts performance at the Olympiad and includes
highly illustrative tables which are the product of painstaking
THE FIRST table provides a summary of T&Ts performance
at Chess Olympiads since we first participated in Tripoli,
Libya, in 1976. As can be seen, the total number of participating
countries generally increased at each biennial event from
39 at that time to peak at 136 during the Olympiad held
at Bled, Slovenia, in 2002.
The table shows T&Ts final placing at the end
of each event in relation to the number of participants.
The blue portion of each bar indicates the number of teams
finishing ahead of T&T, while the purple (maroon) indicates
the number of teams finishing behind T&T. It can be
seen that as the number of teams increased, T&Ts
placing generally slipped down the scale, with our best
performance seeminly occurring in our first outing and our
worst occurring in 2002 and 2004.
These results are confirmed in Table 2 where T&Ts
placings are examined this time in terms of the percentage
of the field finishing ahead or behind us. We see that the
Libya outing of 1976 was indeed our best relative performance
on record, as we finished 56 percent of the way down the
The Olympiads of Malta (1980) and Switzerland (1982) yielded
our next best performances on record. Two of our worst performaces
were achieved over the past six years at the events in in
Turkey (2002) and Spain (2004) where T&T finished among
the bottom 11 percent of participants. In general, though,
it appears that T&T tends to finish within the bottom
30 percent of all participants.
Notwithstanding our variable performances over the years,
T&T has been able to record some notable achievements
at the Olympiads. In 1984 at Thessalonika, Greece, John
Raphael won a bronze medal for the country after scoring
9.5 out of 12 points on board two. Ravishen Singh went on
better in Bled, Slovenia, in 2002 when he secured the silver
medal for his performance on first reserve board with a
score of 7 out of 8 points.
NEXT WEEK: A comparison of T&Ts performance with
those of our Caribbean neighbours and keenest rivals, Barbados