Sharma, Raghunandan should be commended for going to Orealla to teach children chess
I refer to an article published on Saturday, June 9, in your sport section, captioned ‘Sharma breeding chess champions in Orealla.’
First, I want to publicly express my thanks to Mr Rai Sharma and Mr Krishnanand Raghunandan for the initiative that they have taken. I had written a letter to your paper on December 23, 2011 lamenting the disadvantages faced by rural children in getting proper coaching in chess.
It was just after the National School Chess Championship when Saeed Ali won the individual title, and I found out that Mr Rai Sharma was his coach.
I was annoyed because rural children are not able to access any training and therefore cannot compete with their city counterparts on an equal basis. I do not know if Mr Sharma saw my letter and decided to do something about the inequality, but hats off to him for finally doing something about it.
When a Rai Sharma can step out of the box and venture to the hinterland and expose our children to his knowledge and expertise in mastering the techniques of chess, we must say thanks.
Orealla is over sixty miles up the Corentyne River and closer to Paramaribo than Georgetown, so it must have taken enormous resources and logistics to put such an endeavour in place.
To know that over 50 persons are playing chess in Orealla and most of them are children, is in itself no mean feat to accomplish in such a short time.
I am hoping that the Minister of Sport is cognisant of this development and would place his ministry’s full support behind any other such programme.
The Guyana Chess Federation keeps harping on about spreading chess, and according to Mr Shiv Nandalall (the President), they are strategizing. Whilst they are strategizing Mr Sharma and Mr. Raghunandan have shown that action speaks louder than words. There is a chess trainer, Mr Alex Joseph, so I am asking the GCF to let us know how many persons Mr Joseph has trained up till now.
As your article mentioned, Mr Sharma has also put in place other persons to keep the interest in chess active. This is what is needed and not just a one-off tournament every now and then.
It is heartwarming to read that another community, Siparuta, will be brought into the picture and then Corriverton and the Upper Corentyne.
The whole of Guyana should be covered by programmes such as this because we have a problem in schools with Mathematics and English and everyone who knows about chess will know that it helps to develop mathematical concepts, while Scrabble is all about words and English.
The Ministry of Education should also be looking at engaging the concept of teaching chess and scrabble in every school from the primary level upwards.
Researching Mr Sharma, I have found that he has been around chess since the early eighties and he has always been willing and ready to share his knowledge.
I was recently told that when the request to get chess sets for Orealla came to the attention of Mr Nigel Dharamlall (the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs), he readily agreed to have sets available when told that Mr Rai Sharma would be the trainer, because he remembered Mr Sharma travelling to President’s College on the East Coast to teach chess when the school was opened in the mid-eighties.
I hope that all the outlying areas and sporting groups will take a page from the Orealla programme and see how best they can get a similar undertaking so that chess and scrabble will become household words in our schools.
I close wishing Mr Sharma and Mr Raghunandan the best of luck in this commendable exercise. All kudos to them again.