Wednesday 10th May, 2006


How will T&TCA vote?

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DDR 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 TT’s 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 Best Move.”

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 extracted.

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 concerns.

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 year’s national contest and other open tournaments will strive to improve on T&T’s 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 women’s 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 in general.

Tables tell the tale

KURTIS 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&T’s performance at the Olympiad and includes highly illustrative tables which are the product of painstaking research.

THE FIRST table provides a summary of T&T’s 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&T’s 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&T’s 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&T’s 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 field.

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&T’s performance with those of our Caribbean neighbours and keenest rivals, Barbados and Jamaica.

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