Chess sinking into obscurity

Stabroek News
February 27, 1998

The game of Chess continues to sink further into obscurity and unless some herculean effort is made by lovers of the game or moreso by the new Minister of Sport, former Minister of Health, Gail Texeira, Chess in Guyana will be a thing of the past.

The game started to suffer a decline in 1992 when only four tournaments were held. That year a five-man team were to participate in the Greece Olympiad, but because the Guyana Chess Federation did not pay their affiliation fees to the governing body FIDE, the team never left these shores. Affiliation fees were also outstanding for the years 1990 and 1991.

Its leanest year however was last year (1997), no tournament were held. One of the Federation's plans for '92 was the decentralisation of the game, taking it back to schools. The game was resuscitated at Queen's College that year through Jude Phillip-Neri, a Sri Lankan youth who attended the prestigious institution. Phillip-Neri was instrumental in organising one tournament which attracted a record 107 players, 20 of whom were females. It also saw the introduction of computer in tournaments. Incidently the computer played below its highest level and still managed to defeat every one it played.

Once a major sport in Guyana, Chess is no longer played at club level and can only be seen sometimes being played in shops or bottom houses around the city by former national players who yearn for a venue execute their skills.

The Federation's Annual General Meeting (AGM) was not held in 1993 and a committee headed by Steve Ram was elected to serve until 1994 when the AGM should have been held. Only three tournaments were held that year.

With the non-functioning of the Federation, its members failed to capitalise on the visit in 1995 by FIDE's President Florencio Campomanes and the promises of assistance from the late President of Guyana, Dr. Cheddie Jagan.

Stabroek News' columinst Errol Tiwari continues to keep readers of this newspaper informed throughout the year with the happenings around the world.