Guyana Chess Federation Chess in Schools

The Guyana Chess Federation (GCF) chess in schools (CIS) program was launched on November,17 2019 under a mandate by the executive with a committee being assigned to Anand Raghunauth.

An assessment by the committee was done by way of meeting on the status of chess in the schools. It was found that there were few existing chess clubs in schools that were not in formal contact and/or aware of the Guyana Chess Federation. The GCF had fewer than fifty registered Junior members in good financial standing.
In January of 2020, the CIS committee started an initiative to distribute chess sets to several schools and also sell chess sets to some privately owned schools with the objective of creating clubs and engaging the school.

The schools that received chess sets and were encouraged to set up chess clubs were:

  • Bishops High School 2 sets
  • St, John’s College 2 sets
  • Christ Church Secondary 2 sets
  • Saraswati Vidya Niketan 2 sets
  • Dolphins Secondary School 2 sets
  • West Demerara Secondary 2 sets
  • Deaf Academy 2 sets
  • Bernice High School 2 sets
  • Maes School 5 sets (paid) @ $2500
  • School of Nations 15 sets (paid) @$2500
  • Success primary 5 sets (paid) @$3000
  • Berbice chess Association 8 sets

In addition to the distribution of chess sets the CIS also engaged schools with existing chess clubs.

  • Queens College
  • Saint Stanislaus College Marian academy
  • In 2019 the GCF was awarded the hosting of the CARIFTA Junior Chess Championships 2020 which attracts the highest level junior chess players in the Caribbean.
  • The chess in schools program was then geared towards supporting this tournament by finding the best Junior players in the school system with a target of one hundred players across several categories to participate.

The first initiative of the CIS was the hosting of the under 12s Junior chess tournament at the venue of School of the Nations this saw a participation level of thirty-eight players. This event created a partnership with the school as a free venue for future tournaments and a titled sponsor committed to future tournaments.
The second tournament was the under 14s Junior chess tournament which was held at Maes School with over 60 participants, This tournament created an opportunity for the Queen college Alumni to become engaged and promised support for chess. The support for chess at Queens College after this tournament has seen the club well-financed and expanding.

The third event was the u16 Junior chess championship which was held at the National Stadium with about 30 players. This event was never completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions and eventual lockdown.

The onset of the pandemic led to the cancellation of the CARIFTA tournament and the over-the-board events by the CIS. All chess events were suspended with live contact by the CIS to date. The CIS found that the only way to continue its mandate was through the online method. In a meeting with the president of the federation, executive member Mr. Nathoo, technical consultant Mr. John Lee and myself it was decided that the online platform chesskid.com being a safe platform for children would be used as the method to facilitate further chess development.

In September 2020 two hundred gold membership were purchased on this platform. 100 was paid for from a donation of $300000 by GAICO construction company. The other one hundred was paid for by the Guyana Chess Federation funds allocated to CIS. This platform enabled the CIS program to continue to effectively function with monthly tournaments being held. The CIS was able to field a team of 13 players for the youth and cadet World Cup rapid online in August 2020. It was noted that players were challenged to a new level of chess that they had never experienced.
The engagement of a coach for the players who established themselves on chess kid with a rating of over 1100 was the next step towards player development.
The services of International Master Atanu Lahiri was accepted free of cost from September to December 30th 2020 for the training of our players.

Year 2021

In 2021 after the initial rejection of a plan for chess development funding by FIDE a revised plan was submitted which indicated the new initiatives online, which were the cost for coaching and the cost for the online chesskid.com platform. This was accepted by FIDE and the provision for $5000 USD to support this program was awarded.
Mr. Lahiri services were contracted at a cost of 30US dollars per hour for four hours per week.
The class was intended for 50 players to garner revenue of $1,500 GYD per month per student. The class size now stands at 31 with earnings of $257,000 to date being necessary to offset the total yearly cost of the training. Some students are exempted from paying.

The ongoing pandemic required the chess in schools program to remain online with monthly tournaments on Chesskid.com and Tornello.com platforms. The CIS online initiative allowed the GCF to field a team of 22 players in the 2021 youth and cadet World Cup rapid online tournament. This tournament was affected by the academic examination cycle being scheduled around the same time. The performance of the players was notable. There were more opportunities created in games and positive outcomes which could be credited to coaching.
Ongoing pilot projects with chess classes being tested at School of Nations where over one hundred kids were introduced to chess. Sundays class for beginners has seen over 30 new addition to the chess federation.
In September 2021 the Chesskid.com contract was renewed with the purchase of one hundred and fifty seats.

Strategic partnerships

The CIS is in contact with and has used the services of the sport psychologist provided by the National Sports Commission to care for the well being of players.
The CIS has collaborated with the Deaf Academy to provide support for kids with those challenges.
The CIS has established strategic partners in the Everest cricket club, Maes School Queens College, School of nations as free venues for chess.
The CIS has established relations with several companies that are committed to supporting Junior chess in future.
Donations:
$50000 for trophies (deposited to GCF) for the under 12s tournament + 4 cases of milk
$60000 for trophies (deposited to GCF ) u14 tournament
Sale of chess sets $65000

Conclusion

The CIS program has expanded to over 250 children playing chess from less than 50 in 2019. The number of schools that have active players has increased.

The engagement of the federation with Queens College, Marian academy and School of Nations have now been tested and shows extreme growth, sustainability and potential to be replicated throughout the country. These clubs carry over fifty players each with a functioning contact person to the federation.

The CIS has driven the GCF membership for the past two years with more than tripling the financial membership. The introduction of mandatory registration with the GCF to play in GCF tournaments is two-fold where it generates membership and secondly much needed revenues. The CIS should be in control of all Junior chess as a disjointed approach and duplication in programs and tournaments were observed.

The program have been adversely affected by the pandemic and new and innovative ways had to be found and acted upon to continue to exist in times unprecedented and unplanned. The result of forced online activity created new opportunities for international participation and exposure to a higher level of chess. This could be a silver lining in the last two years. The CIS is now preparing prepare for the 2022 youth and cadet World Cup online as FIDE has already decided the tournament will be held. We also are examining a timeline to return to over the board tournaments.