International chess breakthrough possible

By FRED STURRUP,
NG Associate Editor

As we wind down another year, it’s time for sports reflection.

Readers of this column would be quite aware of the strides made in Bahamian sports during 2008. They would have a good understanding of the inroads made regionally and international by a number of disciplines. Bodybuilding/fitness, judo, sailing, swimming, boxing, American football and the constant standout sport, track and field, have been profiled often and rightly so.

There have been a number of Bahamian world champions in bodybuilding, track and field, sailing and one in boxing. The stage I think, is set for a few more world champions to emerge from other sports programs.

How about from one sports game that has been upstaged over the years?

Reference is to chess. What are the chances for a world champion in chess to come from The Bahamas? Would a name like Trevor Oshan Lockhart Jr. one day be listed for all to see, as the world’s premier chess player?

We’ve had one already from the region. Yes, the Caribbean has in fact produced a world chess champion. It was a Cuban, by the name of Jose Raul Capablanca. I was browsing through the encyclopedia Wikipedia recently. It was a rather pleasant literary journey which cemented in my mind once again, the high regard for chess in some parts of the world. Chess is indeed a fascinating and intriguing game.

The official history of chess tournament competition dates back to 1851 and a German, Adolf Anderssen, will forever have the distinction of being the first tournament champion. After him came names like American Paul Morphy, Wilhelm Steinitz of Prague, German Emmanuel Lasker, and the Cuban Capablanca who reigned supreme from 1921 to 1917 in the early era.

After World War II, the Soviet Union gained a stranglehold on the chess world and produced champion after champion. The string was broken only by the interesting and very different Bobby Fischer. The late American in his head-to-head confrontation with Russian Boris Spassky in the ‘Match of the Century’, popularized chess like never before.

Anatoly Karpov, Victor Korchnoi and Gary Kasparov continued the Russian reign of superiority in chess.

Kasparov went outside of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) in 1993 and formed another organization (Professional Chess Association), resulting in the sport having two champions until 2006. The titles were unified in 2006 when Russian Vladimir Kramnik defeated Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. In 2007, Viswanathan Annand of India became World Champion and reigns today.

Here is the full article.

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