Wednesday 22th August, 2007


Thanks to initiative by FIDE’s Herbert...

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GOOD NEWS for Caribbean chess; Guyana is soon to reappear as an active regional competitor. Once the leading chess-playing country among West Indian states, Guyana virtually disappeared from the international chess map when its economy plummeted disastrously in the 80s. Now, thanks to the initiative recently taken by Allan Herbert, FIDE CACDEC Chairman, Guyana is reorganizing its chess plalying energies for a strong return to the regional scene.

A few weeks ago, Herbert, who is stationed in Barbados, spent two days in Guyana on a successful chess revival mission. In pursuit of this objective, he held discussions with Minister of Sport Dr Frank Anthony, President of the Guyana Olympic Association K.A. Juman-Yassin and members of the local chess community.

Commenting on his effort, Herbert explained that it ensued from the recent initiative announced by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to expand the sport of chess in those countries which are currently not affiliated to the world chess body. He observed that the absence of Guyana from chess represents “a major void” making the English-speaking Caribbean the only area in the Americas having countries not affiliated to FIDE.

In the 1970s, however, Guyana led the sport in the area. The country competed in two Olympiads - Buenos Aries in 1978 and Valetta in 1980 - and hosted a major Caribbean Championship tournament which was won by Cuba.

The records show that Guyana performed creditably at both these Olympiads which led to th country’s top player at the time, Maurice Broomes, earning an international rating of 2210.

Meeting with officers of the Guyana Olympic Association, Herbert expounded on plans to work with the local chess community to revive the Guyana Chess Federation and have it affiliated to the Association. President Juman-Yassin saw no obstacle to affiliation of the GCF once the body was properly reconstituted and recognized by FIDE.

Herbert also reported on two meetings with Sports Minister Anthony at which a number of joint initiatives were discussed. The Minister expressed great interest in establishing a Chess-in-Schools programme and committed his ministry to providing the trophies for a schools championship tournament. On behalf of FIDE, Herbert pledged to donate 200 chess sets to facilitate the launch of the programme.

Minister Anthony also agreed to make available to the GCF a facility in the Sports Hall which could be used for practice by players as well as hosting major chess tournaments. The first of such events will be an international tournament which will see six of Guyana’s top players vying for their FIDE rating.

Through CACDEC Development Funds, Herbert agreed to cover the travel cost of four FIDE-rated players from within the region to this contest which will see international chess return to Guyana for the first time in more than 20 years.

To revive the GCF, Minister Anthony agreed to use his office to convene a general meeting of all former members and interested parties to elect a new executive.

Herbert also met with the Guyana Teachers’ Union seeking its support for coordinating a Chess-in-Schools seminar for teachers which was organised by the GCF in a short space of time.

Let us hope that all these initiatives will come quickly to fruition and that by next year Guyana will be, once again, a vigorous competitor in the regional and international chess arenas. Hopefully, the Caribbean championships can then be revived.


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