Guyanese team to participate in online Chess Olympiad

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The Guyana Chess Federation (GCF) has announced that 12 top chess players will represent Guyana at the revamped 2020 Chess Olympiad, which will now be contested online by over 160 countries.

The World Chess Federation (FIDE) has invited member countries to participate after it disclosed in June that an online Chess Olympiad would be held beginning on July 22 and ending on August 30, 2020. FIDE has also implemented measures by utilising chess software to prevent online cheating. Chess is played online by millions worldwide.

The novel online Olympiad replaces the August, 2020, event in Russia, where hundreds of top chess players would have met face-to-face. But the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has placed a stranglehold on the event in that country.

The Guyana team, consisting of six females and six males, is scheduled to participate on July 29 to August 2 in nine gruelling rounds of fast-paced chess in cyberspace. Each player would be allotted 15 minutes plus five seconds increment per match to score victory over a foreign opponent. The quick thinking of players and their knowledge of chess theory will be put to the test as they seek to out-manoeuvre their opponents in the limited time controls.

Leading the local men’s senior team is current National Senior Champion Anthony Drayton (FM)*. He is supported by Taffin Khan (CM)*, while Wendell Meusa (CM)* and Loris Nathoo are the reserve players. The senior women’s team is led by Maria Thomas (WFM)* and she is supported by Samirah Gobin.   Sheriffa Ali (WCM)* and Yolander Persaud are the reserve players in that category.

In the junior league, Queen’s College student Rajiv Lee is taking up the challenge. He is supported by former Junior Champion Joshua Gopaul as reserve player in the Male Under-20 division. Sasha Shariff is confirmed for the Women’s Under-20 team and Angel Rahim is her reserve counterpart. All team members were selected based on their creditable performance in local tournaments during the past year.

The Chess Olympiad is usually held every two years; the last one was held in 2018 in Batumi, Georgia, one of the former Soviet Republics. The Olympiad is the chess equivalent to the Olympics, which is held every four years for the many other physical sports disciplines.

*Note on chess rankings: FM= FIDE MASTER, CM=CANDIDATE MASTER, WCM=WOMAN CANDIDATE MASTER, WFM=WOMAN FIDE MASTER

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