Lifting Guyana’s stature in international chess

At the recent high-level 2018 Biel Chess Festival in Switzerland, Azerbaijani grandmaster Shakhriyar Mamedyarov defeated world chess champion Magnus Carlsen. Mamedyarov, ranked No 3 in the world at 2801 Elo points (Carlsen is 2842), produced some excellent moves to outplay his opponent. Carlsen is preparing to defend his world championship title this November against American grandmaster Fabiano Caruana. In photo, Mamedyarov (left) updates his scoresheet while Carlsen looks on. (Photo: Lennart Ootes)

Two Saturdays ago, the Guyana Chess Federation (GCF), hosted a successful dinner at the Promenade Gardens to support its future chess endeavours. The dinner represented the beginning of a series of fundraisers to lift the ancient game of chess higher and to spread it around to each of the ten regions.

As a start, Guyana will attend the competitive 2018 Chess Olympiad in Georgia, where over 150 nations will participate.

The only way to lift the standard of chess in Guyana is to obtain titles. And the only way to obtain titles, is to play in international chess tournaments. Some years ago, Guyana topped the entire English-speaking Caribbean at the Olympiad in addition to some other respectable chess nations. We intend to surpass that impressive statistic in due course.

Manuel Aaron, who became India’s first ever chess master in 1962, was awarded the coveted International Master title and celebrated his 82nd birthday last year. Among his famous victories are those over world champion Max Euwe from the Netherlands, Lajos Portisch and Wolfgang Uhlmann. Aaron dominated Indian chess for over two decades.

It is possible we can go higher in chess. China became a chess power almost overnight. Suddenly, as when you go to bed and awake in the morning, China emerged and catapulted itself into a world chess power. Now China boasts a player, Ding Liren, in the top ten of all chess players worldwide.

Another example is India, which previously had one international master of chess, Manuel Aaron, for years, but never achieved the prestigious title of grandmaster, the highest title in chess. Suddenly, and before China did, India emerged as a startling chess power by producing some 50 grandmasters and a world chess champion in Viswanathan Anand. A year ago, India produced the youngest international master ever and the second youngest grandmaster in Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. 

To obtain similar titles, Guyana is obligated to compete overseas, especially in Europe at the Olympiads. If we do not, our chess would lack recognition and remain mediocre. The idea, however, is to spread the game widely and simultaneously pursue titles for recognition.

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