Chess Federation in talks to implement new programme in schools

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By Carlena Knight

Government and private schools in Antigua and Barbuda could, in the near future, be participating in a pilot computer-based programme for chess.

This was revealed by the Communications Officer for the Antigua and Barbuda Chess Federation, Hannibal Fleming, who was a guest on the Good Morning Jojo Sports show yesterday.

The programme, according to Fleming, is one of the ways whereby the Federation is hoping to attract younger players to the mind sport.

“We are looking to do a pilot programme here with a few private and government schools. We are talking to several people on the ground about that, where we are going to introduce a kind of cinematic way where the kids will watch the videos. There are exercises at the end of the videos and then there will be workout sessions at the end where they will get to play with the pieces and eventually what we want to do is to bring [up] the level of competition in Antigua and Barbuda …,” he said.

The initiative will be in partnership with India.

Fleming shared his concern over the membership of the federation, as, according to him, the majority of their members are college students who are currently overseas.

“We keep getting members who are looking to go off to college so we have about 20 members who are very active; but of half of those members most of them are looking to go back to school…so this pilot programme is one avenue I think will help to boost our numbers.”

No official date has been given for when the programme will be implemented, but talks are still ongoing. Fleming is however encouraging interested persons to come to the National Public Library on Saturdays.

“They can come to the public library every Saturday from 1 till 4 where Chester Grant, the president, and Seymoure Smith, VP, will be there, but the first piece of the pilot programme we may just roll it out with the public library. It is a computer-based programme where the kids will be able to use that but we are speaking to people in the Ministry. We have to get computer labs set up. We also have to have a game room, but it can actually be the same lab; but that is still in the works.

“It is not fully rolled out yet; we are just letting the general public know that is the direction, the long term plan of the Federation.”

Fleming concluded by sharing some of the benefits of playing chess.

“Children who play chess actually improve a grade point average. If you are a B student you can up to an A; if you are a C student it will bring you up to a B. That’s because it’s very tactical, it’s critical thinking, it’s planning, execution and improvisation,” he said.

“Secondly, people who play chess into their elderly years, do not suffer from Alzheimer’s or any of those mental diseases. It is definitely a form of mental exercise that can help you to stave off some of these ailments that come on.”

Interested parties are asked to contact the President of the Antigua and Barbuda Chess Federation, Chester Grant, at 726-4908.

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