But I have promises to keep

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep.

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening – Robert Frost

These compelling lines by Frost are what drive our small but dedicated committee along. For the sake of crafting a disciplined society, for the sake of lifting a nation, we cling tenaciously to Frost’s inspirational lines, and have adopted these beautiful words as a mantra for the task of making chess a national pastime in Guyana.

You see chess echoes discipline, and the two are inseparable. It was a marvel on Sunday at the National Chess Championships at the King’s Plaza Hotel, to see how well-behaved and disciplined the juniors were. They played their games professionally; scrupulously respected the committee’s code of conduct for the championships; and in actuality carried the day in ethics.

Can you imagine us having a larger society sprinkled liberally with kids similar to the juniors who are currently playing in the National Championships? Kids who would effortlessly be influencing the moral behaviour of their colleagues? This is why I am convinced I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

President Ronald Reagan had a great speechwriter, Peggy Noonan. She wrote in one of the glorious speeches which he delivered to the American people, and again in her bestselling book, When Character Was King, that many of the big decisions we make in life, we make in childhood, and we do not even know we are making them.

I am convinced some of the child is inevitably reflected in the man. Children interpret things in a highly individualistic or idiosyncratic manner. Whatever we learn as children, will influence us throughout our lives. And when we are catapulted into high office, our decisions are seriously encouraged by what we learnt and adopted in our childhood.

And this is why we have an obligation to teach our children chess and the stringent discipline which goes with it. Because what our children learn, is what the future knows.

Two Saturdays ago, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony, declared open the National Chess Championships with a profound message to all. He noted that Guyana had once been a significant chess-playing nation within the Caribbean, and many of our players had been known for the quality and excellence of their play, with some even feared by their international opponents. The game stagnated for various reasons, and was dormant until the Interim Chess Committee began making some serious attempts to revitalize it.

The Minister graciously acknowledged the work of the committee and felt that if the promotion of the game continued at its current accelerated pace, there was little doubt that it would become a national pastime. And with that, in a few years, we would produce our own grandmasters.

Dr Anthony added: “The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport has been collaborating with the committee in the resuscitation effort of the game. Our approach has been to form chess clubs in schools. Our long-term, idealistic goal is to have a chess club in every school. Now you may wonder, why should we invest in schools? The current World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand put it over well when he declared, ‘Nowadays, when you’re not a grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it.'”

Dr Anthony also expressed his views in relation to his ministry’s future commitment to the game: “Next year, the ministry would be continuing its support for chess; we would be providing equipment, having training workshops and would be sponsoring tournaments, especially the schools’ tournaments.” The Minister impatiently reminded the committee that he wants the new Guyana Chess Federation established without delay, so that Guyana can complete the required steps to rejoin the Federation Internationale des Echecs, (FIDE) the governing body of world chess.

Departing from his main theme during his address, Dr Anthony, an accomplished chess player himself, quoted the wise counsel of grandmaster Rudolph Spielmann, and advised the participants of the championships as follows: “Play the opening like a book, the middle game like a magician, and the end game like a machine.”

Finally, Dr Anthony congratulated Kriskal Persaud, a favourite to win the championship in the senior category, for his remarkable effort in travelling from the Corentyne each Saturday and Sunday to play.

The championship games will continue today at the King’s Plaza Hotel, Main Street, and the public is invited to view the games. Those desirous of becoming members of the new Chess Federation can visit the committee today at the King’s Plaza Hotel or call Irshad Mohamed on telephone number 664-1650 or Shiv Nandalall on 623-7723.

Grischuk v Leko

During the World Chess Championships in Mexico City, the Ruy Lopez proved to be a popular defence against White’s e4. The Marshall variation has moved from a creative idea to a solid defensive system for Black. In the following game, Grischuk settles for a draw.

Grischuk,A (2726) – Leko,P (2751)

WCH. Mexico City

September, 2007

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Qd7 11.Nc3 Rfe8 12.a4 b4 13.Ne2 d5

14.exd5 Nxd5 15.Ng3 Bf8 16.a5 Nd4 17.Nxd4 exd4

18.Bd2 Nf6 19.Rxe8 Rxe8 20.Bg5 Qc6 21.Qf1 Qd6 22.Re1 Re5 23.Rxe5 Qxe5 24.Bxf6 Qxf6 25.Qe2 g6 26.Qg4 Bd6 27.Ne4 Qf4 28.Qxf4 DRAW.

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