FIDE CEO happy over Lanka’s development in chess
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) Geoffrey Borg was amazed at the extent of enthusiasm among the young players and the development of the game which has taken place in Sri Lanka over the years. The fifty-year-old former national player from Malta had the opportunity of visiting some of the chess playing centres and schools in Colombo on his way to Chennai to make final arrangements for the World Championship clash between Vishwanath Anand and Magnus Carlsen.
“The first thing is we look at the health of the actual federation and I can say with much satisfaction I am very pleased with what I have seen and I was also quite impressed with the amount of young people playing chess because this is also your future.“I know this is school holidays and still it takes a lot of dedication to come and play chess as it means you love what you are doing and the fact that you see a lot of young kids and particularly a lot of girls playing is really encouraging”.
Geoffrey Borg believed that Sri Lanka could very soon emerge as a major force and produce international class chess players if they could introduce the game at classroom level.“Here we are discussing the potential of introducing chess in primary schools, chess as a thinking skill because of course one of the key aspects of chess is that between the ages of 7 and 12 the human brain is still forming. Chess as a teaching tool as a thinking skill helps children to develop a lot of attitudes which basically are coming from a number of other subjects.”
Geoffrey Borg also highlighted the fact that there is a large percentage of female participation in chess tournaments in Sri Lanka overall compared to some of the other countries in the World. “Traditionally we always try and push girls to play more and more chess and what I have seen is you have something like 30 to 40 percent of girls and this is excellent because it shows that you have a good mix of young girls coming into play.
“This is good and it means as a nation it is completely open as a culture with girls and boys playing together. I have spent many months traveling all over the world and sometimes the girls are split away from the boys which means you don’t get the sort of cross cultural mixing. In Sri Lanka this is a positive note.”Geoffrey Borg also stressed the added advantage of playing chess as it not only helps to achieve success in competitions but it can also be a great educational tool which will guide everyone to become responsible citizens.
“If we can get medals it is fantastic. The Sports Minister no doubt wants medals this is their point. The Education Minister wants educated citizens and together chess can produce both. There is nothing negative in the game of chess really I cannot think of anything negative in chess.“We want to see the young ones coming through not may be to become Grand Masters. It will be nice to see some of them become Grand Masters but what we need is responsible people in future. This is the first lesson that we seek as chess is a very responsible game. There is no luck in chess and chess brings no luck because it is all about life skills.”
The CEO of the World Chess Federation also promised that he would help Sri Lanka to improve their infrastructure facilities and to set up a solid base in coaching and in conducting training sessions. “We need to strengthen the trainers. We have a lot of young guys very willing and they want to do a lot but we need to license them and give them the right plans the right way and the right programme and the right objectives towards achieving their targets”.