Making a case for chess in schools


Someone once declared, a picture is worth a thousand words. For decades, those words have echoed resonantly in my mind. During the tasteful Tata Steel chess tournament which was conducted in the Netherlands, and at which the current world champion and some of the world’s top ten players participated, official photographer for the Chessbase website, Alina l’Ami, treated chess lovers to a dazzling array of still images. She travels the universe to bring chess images to the populace of five continents.

She is a photographer in addition to being a professional chess player, having attained the rank of International Master, one rank below that of the highest accolade in chess, a grandmaster.

The column harbours the opinion that portraying images of scholastic chess may be encouraging for our students, especially since it is advocating that chess should be played in schools. For the wider society, the benefits of chess may not be noticeable immediately, but once we attract the schools to the game, fame and fortune would eventually follow us.

The two photographs above typify the powerful theme of school chess and the manner in which other nations are reacting to popularizing the game among their youths. The photos are innocently depicted, probably with the intention of saying to the world, we are your future chess grandmasters.

Meanwhile, at last year’s Ultimate Blitz Challenge which featured Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Fabiano Caruana and Garry Kasparov in a round robin tournament, So won a spectacular game against former world champion Kasparov. The press referred to it as the Immortal Chess Blitz Game, such was the elegant nature of the encounter. The original Immortal classical chess game (not blitz, but with a longer time period), was played between Adolf Andersen and Lionel Kieseritzky in London, 1851. Andersen won. Through generations, this game has been analyzed and discussed at length, and has been the subject of a number of chess books. Now we have the blitz equivalent of the original classical Immortal, or so we are led to believe. Time will tell if the So-Kasparov encounter is the true blitz Immortal. In the meantime, the chess fraternity can replay and enjoy the game. It was played in St Louis, USA, on April 29, 2016.





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