Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Gambia Chess Festival

By Stewart Reuben

The Gambia ceased to be a member of FIDE 25 years ago. They rejoined in Turkey at the 2012 FIDE Congress. Later they contacted me to ask me to come there to help develop international chess. They hadn’t even had any local tournaments for three years.

The whole event took place from my arrival 7 to departure 28 February. Apart from a few meetings, everything took place at the Gambia National Olympic Committee House. They offered the facilities free of charge and this was very much appreciated. I met with the Gambian woman member of the IOC; the Chairman of the National Olympic Committee; and representatives of the Sports bodies. It was very refreshing that, by comparison with Britain, chess is unquestioningly regarded as a sport.

The FIDE Arbiters’ course took place 11-14 February. 12 people took part. Unfortunately the participants lacked the experience to pass the exam. Four people are being recommended to the Gambian Chess Federation to be awarded the title of national Arbiter. This will enable them to conduct FIDE Rated tournaments in the future.

A 10 player Round robin tournament was held 15-18 February. Neville Twitchell ENG won with 7.5/9. It completely fulfilled its objectives. 6 people achieved FIDE Ratings; 3 unrated Gambians, 2 Mauritanians and 1 Senegalese. Thus The Gambia now has 4 rated players as one Gambian already had a rating from 1986.

A 24 player Swiss System tournament was held alongside the Round Robin 15-17 February. David Sedgwick, who also assisted me in the Arbiters’ course won with 8.5/9.

A Round Robin Blitz Tournament was held 20 February. All 12 players achieved FIDE Blitz Ratings. Neville Twitchell repeated his success with 9.5/11.

The Gambian Open Championship was a 6 round Swiss held 22-24 February. This time the Gambians did better. Ebrime Bah 5.5/6 became the first-ever Open Champion.

Success for the whole series will only come if they continue to hold events. Nigel Freeman and Lakhdar Mazouz will be visiting in May. Hopefully this will result in more competitive activity.

The youngest player I met was 19. They urgently need to start a Chess in Schools programme.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They need to join again.