The move by four national chess associations which resulted in plans for the formation of a regional chess federation must be commended.
According to a release from the Guyana Chess Federation (GCF) its president Errol Tiwari, along with representatives from Suriname, Jamaica and the Netherland Antilles signed an agreement on August 10 paving the way for the formation of a Caribbean Chess Union (CCU).
Tiwari says that the CCU when established…“would be empowered to negotiate with international bodies and speak with a united voice for the Caribbean.”
However, a number of other Caribbean countries failed to show up and the GCF has been tasked with the responsibility of informing all chess federations within the region of the new development and to invite them to a meeting.
What was significant though at the meeting in Curacao was the presence of former World chess champion Anataloy Karpov.
It is no secret that Karpov will challenge FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhilov for the post when the body holds its 81st Congress General Assembly from September 29-October 2 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
So was the meeting in Curacao solely about the need to form a regional chess association?
We think not.
The presence of Karpov in Curaco suggests that that meeting was more to guage and seek support for Karpov’s presidency rather than to seek a way forward for regional chess.
What seems likely is that the GCF might have already pledged its vote to Karpov although a GCF official yesterday told Stabroek Sport that this was not the case.
“We have not yet taken a decision on who to support,” the official said.
“We can’t take a position openly not knowing who will win. We have to promote chess in the interest of all,” he added.
The GCF, he said will meet on Saturday to discuss the issue since Saturday’s meeting will be the last statutory meeting before the FIDE elections.
And where was FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhilov? He was in Trinidad at the opening of the inaugural Caribbean Chess Competition (UMADA CUP) where Guyana was represented by Taffin Khan and Irshad Mohammed.
Obviously both Karpov and Ilyumzhilov see the Caribbean as an important pawn in their battle for FIDE’s fiefdom.
One therefore cannot be faulted for assuming that the formation of Caribbean Chess Union is nothing more than a gambit by Karpov to have the majority of Caribbean countries behind him.
FIDE is divided into four geographical areas Europe, Americas, Asia and Africa.
Europe has the largest block of voters with some 55 countries under its umbrella. Asia comes next with 47 countries while the Americas (which umbrella covers Guyana and the Caribbean) have 35 member countries. Africa with 34 member countries brings up the rear.
As the race heats up both Karpov and Ilyumzhilov have claimed to have the support of a number of countries including Cyprus while the New York Times reported that both Karpov and Ilyumzhilov have promised large sums of money to finance chess programmes and tournaments and for development purposes around the world.
While it is not clear if Guyana will be represented at the congress and by whom, the choice of who to support will need to be carefully analysed.
It is doubtful whether the GCF can afford to send a representative to the congress in which case it will have to vote by proxy and send the form with a delegate from one of the other Caribbean federations unless of course either Karpov or Ilyumzhilov decide to pay for the delegate to attend the congress.
For years, Chess in Guyana languished because of the inability of some previous presidents to keep the sport alive and now the Errol Tiwari led administration is in a quandary.
The situation is akin to a poisoned pawn and the GCF should be wary of taking the gambit for they could very well find themselves checkmated in a corner.