Important chess championships being contested

The Guyana Chess Federation hosted a Mashramani Blitz Chess Tournament recently at the National Aquatic Centre, Liliendaal. Blitz is usually referred to as speed chess and during blitz games, each player has five minutes on his/her timer to complete the game. In the photo Cassandra Khan (left) faces Saeed Ali. Khan was adjudged the best female junior chess player of the competition, while Ali, who qualified for the National Senior Chess Championship, is playing today at the Windjammer Hotel in Kitty.

Who will win the 2018 National Senior Chess Championship? The question is uppermost in our minds. This column, while not answering the question, will try to interpret the occasion.

Chess aficionados have been refreshed by a new insight into the Guyana Chess Federation (GCF). Over time, much fine gold has been corroded as we regrettably parted company with most of our successful chess players. We lost them to the developed western nations. For years, scant attention was paid to chess. We stopped attending the Olympiads and ceased travelling to international chess tournaments. Guyana’s name was removed from the list of nations which belonged to the World Chess Federation (FIDE). However, the GCF continued to host national chess tournaments and to teach the ancient game to children. I can recall Roy Sharma, Ewan Devonish and Irshad Mohammed serving selflessly as chess teachers. Following the visit of FIDE’s Director for chess within the Caribbean Allan Herbert, Guyana rejoined FIDE.

We re-entered the international arena by competing in international chess tournaments soon after. During the dismal period of inactivity, Guyana lost precious time that could have been spent developing chess. We reckoned how productive we could have been in relation to the manufacturing of positive chess ratings. We cannot recoup the wasted time which we used unwisely, but we can look into the future with awakened eyes. Very clearly, the National Chess Championship has awakened us.

The last National Chess Championship was held in 2014. Wendell Meusa was victorious. He has held the title since. Meusa attended the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway, and the 2016 Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan. Regrettably, he was prevented from playing for Guyana on both occasions by FIDE because he infringed, supposedly, on a FIDE rule. With the prolonged absence of local chess tournaments, Meusa’s lustre as a national champion has gradually diminished. Although he cannot be considered a prime favourite for the Nationals, he is still an excellent player and should finish among the top three. Meusa’s competition would emerge distinctly from Anthony Drayton who won the National Qualifying Tournament, and enriched himself with the Caribbean Chess Cup, at a tournament which was held in Barbados in December. Taffin Khan, Ronuel Greenidge, Loris Nathoo and Glenford Corlette are also playing excellent chess. The National Chess Champion-ships (Junior and Senior) began yesterday at the Windjammer Hotel in Kitty. A single round-robin competition totalling eight players for each category will be contested.

The work of the GCF depicts the work of restoration and one can feel that a vision for the royal game is taking shape in Guyana.

Meanwhile, the Candidates Chess Tournament began yesterday in Berlin. The Tournament will identify a challenger for World Champion Magnus Carlsen. This challenger will play a match against Carlsen in November in London. Sergey Karjakin of Russia was the last challenger, but he lost to Carlsen in the World Championship match. Eight of the finest chess players on the planet are participating in the Candidates Chess Tournament. Russia has three entrants, the USA has two, China one, Armenia one and Azerbaijan one.

Karjakin won the Tal Memorial Tournament in Moscow last week. Viswanathan Anand won the Rapid category of the Tal Memorial. The Candidates Tournament which started in 1950, promises much excitement owing to the high-class chess which will be guaranteed.