The Guyana Chess Federation (GCF) was forced to adapt after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic, in March 2020. However, unlike many other local sports bodies, it is not only continuing programs, but it also transformed the sport through the online route.
GCF President Frankie Farley told Chronicle Sport that the “GCF sees the pandemic as a blessing in disguise”.
“We were forced to seek virtual solutions to keep the sport alive and active, hence the number of online ventures.”
Among the initiatives was the appointment of the International Master of India, Atanu Lahiri.
The former Commonwealth chess champion, who had periods as head coach of Nepal (2005) and Bhutan (2014) before taking charge of India’s Junior, Junior and Cadet teams, has been working with about 40 young people in the U-. 20 and the U-16s (which include some strong U-12 players) weekly levels since early October.
Farley said the young players have improved dramatically, which has prompted the federation to extend Lahiri sessions throughout 2021.
“Junior chess is in the embryo stages and we have the young players training under the International Masters, the highest level of training they have ever received.”
The high-level training drove Guyana to honors last December at the U10-18 World F10 Online World Championships.
If that happened, 11 of the 13 young people representing Guyana victories registered. Seventeen-year-old Angel Rahim led the charge after winning four of her seven matches to finish seventh in the Women’s Under-18 division. Arysh Raghunauth, Ethan Lee, Jaden Taylor and Anaya Lall finished with two wins each, while Kyle Couchman, Ronan Lee, Joshua Khan, Harmony Dodson, Anasie Fredericks and Sasha Shariff finished with a winning victory. A number of new faces were also introduced to the game during the closing phase and have continued to develop through specific programs implemented by the federation.
EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC
The main impediment caused by the global lockout was the cancellation or postponement of several international and regional competitions and the inevitable suspension of over-the-top local competitions. Farley cited the cancellation of the 44th Chess Olympiad, which was due to take place in Moscow, Russia last August, among the top issues. That event was rescheduled to mid-2021.
The FIDE 2020 Candidate Tournament, held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, was also suspended at the midpoint of the tournament on March 26, while the 2020 CARIFTA Chess Tournament, scheduled for last April in Guyana, was also postponed, and ‘ to cancel thereafter.
Farley noted that the federation would continue to develop the game at the junior level going forward.
“The momentum of the Chess in School program is definitely a catalyst for raising the level of play among our younger children. We see a higher level of play among our younger players. ”
Farley added that the GCF would continue aggressive programs in all ten administrative districts this year and focus on youth, women in chess and those with different disabilities.
“We will partner with the private sector to create a GCF scholarship fund for primary and secondary school students in Guyana. It is hoped that the scholarship program will be a motivating factor in encouraging our young people to play. In the coming years, we will extend the program to the University of Guyana. ”