July 25, 2016
Chess legend Anatoly Karpov is the special guest in Nassau for the Caribbean Sub Zonal Chess Championship, which takes place up until tomorrow.
Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace hailed the event as one that fulfills all the criteria for gaining the support of his ministry; pointing out that the championship is expected to bring travel business to the country as it draws competitors from 10 different countries.
In addition, the Minister said, it advances the Bahamas socially and provides promotional opportunities to showcase the Bahamas as the perfect venue for events of every kind.
"We will work with any organisation that is involved with bringing groups of people to The Bahamas for whatever reason because we believe we have the best atmosphere for you to do anything, including chess," he said. "So that is why it is so easy for us to agree to do these things."
Mr. Karpov, a Russian chess grandmaster and former world champion, sought Minister Vanderpool-Wallace's support in lobbying the Bahamian Minister of Education for an official chess programme in schools. He pointed out that FIDE, the international governing body for chess, had opportunities to teach chess to children around the world.
Those opportunities include a programme through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which required the endorsement of the Minister of Education. He said the programmes were part of a plan to put chess on the map again.
"Unfortunately, we have lost a lot," Mr. Karpov said. "Other sports were developing. We were much more popular than tennis when we were playing in the '80s and '90s."
Mr. Karpov recalled that at the height of chess' popularity, he played fellow Russian grandmaster Gary Kasparov in France. The match attracted 700 international journalists, he said. Years later, however, only four journalists would cover a similar match.
Vernice Walkine, director general of the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation, told Mr. Karpov that chess matches in the Bahamas had the potential to assist in bringing more focus to the game.
"Suddenly, people start paying attention because it is so unexpected. So the fact that you are here because of this tournament for example, people are paying attention," she said.
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