Like all great affairs worth the name, sneaking around with Chess is demanding. She is a mistress who has made men crazy. Family nights have become dates with chess engines. Chill afternoons are spent in the company of other enthusiasts. Every free minute has been handed over to her.
In line with this passion for lady Chess there has been an explosion in the number of tournaments taking place. Is this increase in tournaments due to burning love and a desire to see more people enjoying this game of wits and strategy or is it another avenue to mint money? Organising tournaments is no easy feat. It’s an investment. An investment that many have embraced and are getting some good money to write home about. I am not against the many tournaments but l wonder, are the tournaments growing chess in the country?
Sadly, I don’t think so. The tournaments have only been improving existing talent and not the undiscovered gems out there. A tournament may host a hundred players but what pride is there in competing amongst the same old people? What does it benefit the fraternity if there are no new challengers, no new blood to challenge our orthodoxy? These tournaments change into reunions complete with the same pool of competitors not to mention the danger that inbreeding causes to a player.
Some may argue and say that training sessions are occasionallycarried out and that at the end of the day, chess is growing on a daily basis. But why is there no hype for training sessions? Why aren’t there tournaments set to bring in the new talent? Why don’t we proselytize with fanaticism; looking for recruits and throwing open the castle doors?
Oh but there is training hype, a measly two set ups every year. Compared to the twenty plus playing tournaments our recruitment efforts are feeble at best if not altogether halfhearted. Chess just like a woman will receive the gifts you hand to her, graciously even. It will definitely be a sign of your devotion, your love and your unwavering attention. However, like a woman, Chess needs nurturing. For no matter how much you give, there’s always someone who will give more and at the end of the day, the one who wins her heart, is the one who concentrated on the details. The one who tended to her like a garden, watering, weeding and crossbreeding just to ensure that the shoots of affection bloomed and grew into love and commitment.
Tournaments are not bad, they are a chance to jolt ourselves from complacency, a learning curve and a good time. But keeping the beauties and joy of chess in a closed off group is tempting our mistress, pushing her towards acrimony. Smothering her with our closed off love. Let us learn to show her off, sing her praises and occasionally invite new members into the fold, show them how to properly pay homage to her, maybe then more people will trip over their steps trying to impress her and our halls will overflow with new eager faces.
Compiled by Joan Wangari