Guyana should be aiming to produce grandmaster

Two weeks ago, Guyana competed in the online World Chess Federation (FIDE) Worldwide Youth and Cadet Tournament. Guyana was represented in all five categories.

Under-10 representatives were Arysh Raghunauth and Anaya Lall; Under-12s, Kyle Couchman and Harmony Dodson; Under-14s, Ronan Lee and Malihu Rajkumar; Under-16s, Joshua Khan and Anasie Fredericks; and Under-18s, Ethan Lee, and Sasha Shariff.

Guyana emerged from the competition favorably, considering the strength of the competitors. The best chess players representing more than 160 nations competed in the tournament. The world champion may well have been playing.

Over a decade ago, I chatted with the non-resident Ambassador to Guyana from Iceland during a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He pointed out that something extraordinary must happen in a country to become famous in chess that never happened before. Iceland was held to international chess prominence when the Fischer-Spassky world championship game was played there. Before that fight, Iceland had little knowledge in chess circles. However, during and even before the show started, the focus of the world was on Iceland. That was what the Ambassador meant when he said something extraordinary must happen in order for a country to enjoy chess prominence.

In the context of Guyana, we probably have to produce a chess grandmaster. I would not say that we had a flawed attitude that prevented us from creating a grandmother in the past. The conditions were not in our favor in those times but we now have the internet and enjoy practicing tournaments overboard and online. At present, the conditions are excellent for creating a grandmother. You might ask what’s so special about finding a grandmother. Well for one thing, it would give the country chess stardom among Caribbean nations.

India waited a long time for her first grandmother. And that grandmother, in the person of Viswanathan Anand, became the world champion. Long before Anand, there was the unusual Sultan Khan (1905-1966) who showed a stunning aptitude for the game. He played international chess during the 1920s and then the early 1930s disappeared into oblivion. He tackled chess giants like Jose Raul Capablanca and Dr Alexander Alekhine, both world champions, and engaged the best in his time. Khan’s only parallel was the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, who appeared out of nowhere and sent a letter to the great GH Hardy in England. The letter contained 120 theorems and Hardy was enchanted. Ramanujan was invited to Cambridge University to explain his theorems. Hardy’s argument was that the theorems must be true. If not, who would have the imagination to invent them.

India is currently the fastest producer of world-class chess players. The Guyana Chess Federation (GCF) benefits from the services of an Indian chess trainer and the young people listen to and learn from it. I think the GCF is on the right track in terms of tutoring our talented players. Maybe we can find extravagance. Who can tell?