In a novel attempt to field the strongest possible team from the Nigerian Diaspora, the Nigerian federation is holding qualifiers on three continents. The North American Zone will be held in Houston, Texas beginning this weekend. Nigerians from around the continental U.S. will be competing. Below is the announcement.
ZONE 2 : UNITED STATES
The World Chess Olympiad is a mega chess extravaganza that takes place bi-annually. The “who is who” of the chess world from all the chess playing countries of the world will be at the Olympiad. This year, four months after the Beijing Olympics, the 38th Chess Olympiad will kick off in Dresden, Germany from the 12th to 25th of November 2008. One of the chief activities of all the chess federations of the world, at the moment, is to select a very strong team to represent them in Dresden. Some chess federations, such as the one in the United States, have selected their team while others are half way there.
The dilemma that most chess federation faces is the best way to select their team. Some choose to base their selection on rating, titles or past performance at recent tournaments or even past chess Olympiad while others chose to conduct a trial in other to cast a wider net in search of talented chess players.
Nigeria is one of such countries faced with this dilemma. With so many talented chess players scattered around the globe, selecting a team to Dresden is not an easy one. This year, Nigeria is trying something new. Given the fact that the Olympiad is around the corner, and there is no time left for every chess players to go back to Nigeria for a trial, the selection process has been divided into 3 zones: Zone 1: Europe, Zone 2: United States and Zone 3: Nigeria.
The idea behind this initiative is to allow talented chess players to stay in their geographic location (with minimal disruption to their lives activities as possible) while competing for a chance to represent their country. It is the zone 2 part of the trial that is going to start this weekend at the Crown Plaza hotel in Southwest, Houston, Texas. Nigeria chess players, most of who are US Chess Federation ranked chess players will converge in Houston to fight for the 1 spot allocated for their zone.
In a few days, the Nigerian chess players in Europe will also begin their own chess event to select one player who will join the team to Dresden, German from their zone.
The zone 3 in Nigeria, which has a bulk of the chess players just concluded a very strong Olympiad trial tournament this past weekend. 3 male and 3 female chess players have been selected. After the trials in the US and Europe, 2 male players and 1 female player from both the US and Europe are expected to join the Nigerian team to Dresden, Germany.
In essence, this exercise has open up a new idea to chess players everywhere that by opening the door to young and old talented chess players, we are forging the development of the game while promoting a nationalistic pride in the participants. Many chess players are just happy to be a part of this selection process and it promises to produce bigger chess initiatives in the near future.
As noted recently by some commentators, including the former President of the World Chess Federation, Florencia Campomanes, seeding chess players is becoming outdated. Players have to fight for a spot to represent their countries. The way to promote the growth of a sport that is still not as popular as other sports is to have more competition and to educate the public about the beauty of chess. This is what is driving the Nigeria Olympiad selection process and it has received tremendous success already.
We look forward to a good chess selection tournament and we hope to see you at the Crown Plaza Hotel.
Adekunle Elegbede, International Coordinator
Nigeria Chess Federation