Contemplating his next move: Wendell Meusa played undefeated to win the 2018 Senior National Chess Championship recently. Meusa entered into a playoff with Anthony Drayton to decide who would be the National Champion. Meusa won handsomely in the two best-in-three playoff. In the background is Saeed Ali, one of the participants of the National Championship.

I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry for help, He pulled me out of a horrible pit, out of the mud and clay. He set my foot on a rock and made my steps secure. – Psalm 40: 1-2, Holy Bible, a prayer offered for, and by the 33 trapped Chilean miners in August 2010. A cross was erected on the site following their rescue.

In life no one understands everything. Take chess for example: there was a time when World Championship matches were contested for $1,000 purses. Nowadays, World Championship matches have entered the age of opulence and are played for million-dollar purses.

Until 1972, the situation of playing for unattractive finances, remained unchanged. Then American super-grandmaster Bobby Fischer arrived to play for the World Championship title and everything changed dramatically. Fischer was adamant he would not put his talent to the test for a mere $1,000 purse. When the dust finally settled after lengthy negotiations, Fischer was guaranteed US$250,000.

Bobby Fischer in 1992 during his return World Chess Championship Match against Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia. The rules were that the first person to win ten games, draws not counting, would be declared the winner. Fischer won 10-5, following a total of 30 games. After Fischer’s victory he proclaimed himself ‘Undefeated Champion of the World’, but his status as a world champion is not widely acknowledged. (Photo: From an article by Grandmaster Vlastimil Hort in Chessbase)

For a number of years, Fischer, like another American original, Muhammad Ali, had boasted that he was the “greatest”. The entire chess world was eager to see if he could prove his claims, especially against such a formidable player as Boris Spassky, certainly one of the greatest by anyone’s standards. Fischer’s astounding belief that he could take the chess title from Spassky and all of the Soviet Union, was similar to the Chilean miners’ faith that they would be saved by the power of Almighty God. The prayer said by and for them had been conceived by David thousands of years ago; their belief in it was fresh and relevant.

The former Soviet Union was unquestionably the mecca for chess worldwide. It had held the World Championship title for almost forever barring a few instances, and Spassky was the best of all chess grandmasters. Fischer had never taken a game from Spassky before the title match. What made him think he could emerge triumphant in his quest for the title?

Fischer felt he was simply destined to win. He had risen to the summit of his profession without playing for the title. It was only an additional mountain to climb for the genius from Brooklyn. Before the start of the match in Iceland, Fischer was quoted as saying: “I am the best player in the world and I am here to prove it.” Fischer won, and then disappeared.

He re-emerged in 1992 to contest a US$5 million return match with Spassky which he also won. Fischer’s belief in his individualism as a chess player has since captured the imagination of the world.

The first American to emerge as a challenger for the World Championship title since Fischer is Fabiano Caruana. That he finished well ahead of the current World Champion, Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, at the 2018 Grenke Chess Classic recently in Germany, represents a significant boost for Caruana. The two adversaries met in the tournament and the game ended in a draw. Come November, they will face off for the world title.

Meanwhile, in local chess, the junior team that represented Guyana at the 7th Junior Carifta Tournament in Suriname played fairly well among the seven participating nations.