Chess great Kasparov visits, announces youth scheme

Former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov buoyed local chess enthusiasts yesterday when he announced a four-year programme that seeks to promote the sport in Rwandan schools.
Chess legend Kasparov (C) addressing journalists in Kigali yesterday. Looking on are Kevin Ganza, vice chairman, Rwanda Chess Federation (L), and Africa Msimang (R), a member of Garry ....
Chess legend Kasparov (C) addressing journalists in Kigali yesterday. Looking on are Kevin Ganza, vice chairman, Rwanda Chess Federation (L), and Africa Msimang (R), a member of Garry ....

Former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov buoyed local chess enthusiasts yesterday when he announced a four-year programme that seeks to promote the sport in Rwandan schools.

The Russian chess grandmaster, aged 50, who arrived in Rwanda yesterday as part of his foundation’s drive to promote chess on the continent, said chess was a major tool for education and development.

The trip, organised by Garry Kasparov Chess Foundation, saw the former world number one visit Kenya and Uganda before the Rwanda leg, and is today expected to head to Malawi, before proceeding to Zambia and then South Africa where he will attend the Commonwealth Chess Championship.

Briefing journalists and chess enthusiasts in Kigali yesterday, Kasparov said top on his Africa agenda was to convince governments and businesses to support the sport, particularly by promoting it in schools. The Garry Kasparov Chess Foundation assesses the chess needs in several countries and then creates special designs to promote the sport in particular countries, he said.

He said that for Rwanda to become a chess powerhouse in the future there was need to put in place the necessary infrastructure and mechanisms to help identify and nurture talent.

“Rwanda has the potential of become a chess nation but it takes proper planning and consistency,” he said.

“What I am trying to do is not just promoting the sport but have it implemented in schools in Rwanda. Chess in schools will help young kids to improve and sharpen their minds in not only their studies but also boost their confidence,” added Kasparov.

Through his foundation, Garry Kasparov Chess Foundation, the chess legend plans to help provide equipment, training manuals, coaching experts and material support to improve chess in Rwandan schools for the next four years.

The schools will be identified by Rwanda Chess Federation.

He called on the local chess federation to promote the sport and promised his foundation’s support. Local chess fraternity welcomed the development.

“We are excited to partner with Garry Kasparov Chess Foundation and hope this project will help establish chess tradition in Rwanda,” said the Rwanda Chess Federation Vice Chairman Kevin Ganza.

Yesterday, Kasparov met with the Minister for Sports and Culture, Protais Mitali, and the State Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Mathias Harebamungu, with whom they discussed his foundation’s work and how they can partner with Rwanda to promote chess.

He also visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre – Gisozi before meeting members of the local chess fraternity at Lemigo Hotel last evening.

Kasparov declared his intentions to vie for the presidency of chess’ world governing body, Fide, which counts Rwanda among its 160 members.

Considered by many as the greatest chess player of all time, Kasparov became the youngest undisputed World champion in 1985 at the age of 22, after beating then champion Anatoly Karpov. He held the World No.1 spot from 1986 until his retirement in 2005, during which he achieved a peak rating of 2851, the highest score to date. But GM Magnus Carlsen from Norway holds the highest rating at 2862 which he attained at the end of last year.

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