2014 Gambia Open kicks off!

Gambia Gambia Gambia

Out of Gambia… the Gambia Chess Association (GCA) is hosting the Gambian Open this weekend. The tournament is being sponsored by FIDE and is expecting 40 competitors from the West African subregion. This appears to be part of a FIDE initiative to expand chess in the region, but it comes during a heated election campaign season with both candidates zipping across the continent making the best impressions possible.

Group of Gambian chess community and facilitators
David Sedgwick and Stewart Reuben (center) at last year’s festival.

Speaking at a press briefing on Sunday at the Serekunda West Mini Stadium ahead of the event, Mawdo Sallah, the secretary general of the GCA, disclosed that prizes would be given to the best ten players at the end of the competition. He described Chess as one of the oldest games, recalling that one Uncle Mike introduced it in The Gambia in the early 1940s.

It was the Gambian patriot Malick Secka who introduced chess to the Gambian community in the 1940s and helped to register the GCA for the the 1986 Olympiad in Dubai, UAE. He passed away in 2007 and a memorial has been dubbed the “Uncle Mike Memorial”. There was also a festival held last year featuring a training session and four tournaments. Below are a few scenes from the event.

Gambian chess officials…1st Vice President, Treasurer and Auditor.

Aji Njie, Gambia’s only female chess player.

Last year’s Gambian Chess Festival featured four tournaments! Expecting a larger turnout for the Open this weekend.

Gambia has not competed internationally since, but reactivated their FIDE membership in November 2012 at the FIDE Congress in Istanbul, Turkey. The GCA is planning to attend the Olympiad this August in Tromso, Norway. They currently have four rated players and four arbiters.

Arfang Ms Camara, “Gambia: GCA to Host Chess International Tournament,” allafrica.com, 26 February 2014.

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

4 Comments

  1. Hi Daaim, the 2014 tournament is actually being funded and supported by the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa and does not have direct FIDE funding as far as I am aware. We wish all participants the best of luck at this exciting event for the region.

    1. The article at the link says,

      “The competition organised by the Gambia Chess Association and sponsored by the World Chess Federation (FIDE), is targeting 40 competitors from the Gambia and the sub-region.”

      Confusing.

  2. Pingback: Daily Chess News Links March 1, 2014 | blog.chesscafe.com
  3. Gambia: One-Day Rapid Chess Tournament Takes Place Today
    By Cherno Omar Bobb, 25 March 2014

    The Gambia Chess Federation will today, 25 March 2014, organise a day’s rapid chess competition for chess players at Badala Park in Kotu.

    The tournament will be conducted by David R. Sedgwick, FIDE International Arbiter who is in the country to help improve the standard of Gambian arbiter from national to international standards.

    Speaking to reporters last Thursday at the Ocean Bay Hotel after his arrival, David R. Sedgwick said during his ten-day stay in the country he hopes to achieve three main things.

    The first will be to further train the four Gambian arbiters who are appointed and licensed by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), he said.

    The Gambia is only one of three countries in West Africa to have licensed arbiters internationally, he added, saying it was a big achievement for The Gambia within a short period of time after being deregistered by FIDE for 25 years.

    He stated that the second will be to discuss with the Gambia Chess Federation on their participation in the August Olympiad to be held in Norway.

    Thirdly, during his ten-day stay in the country they will receive the Vice President of FIDE from Zambia, he also said, noting that he is as well hoping to have meetings with the Minister of Youth and Sports and Minister of Basic and Secondary Education to discuss how they can develop chess in The Gambia for both children and senior players.

    He said there is no connection with the training of the four Gambian arbiters and the Olympiad, but added that he is hoping for at least one of them to be appointed for the Olympiad.

    After Gambia’s 25 years of absence in the international scene, the country is starting from scratch, he went on, saying that since last year the country has been making progress.

    “We have to build on that progress in due course,” he pointed out, saying the Gambian arbiters can be recognised to qualify to run events not only in The Gambia but also internationally.

    Recently the West Africa Chess Association financed a tournament in The Gambia, he said, describing the championship as a success, which is certainly something to build on.

    The English Chess Federation senior arbiter further stated that he also hopes to help the administration of the Gambia Chess Federation so that when the team goes for the Olympiad they perform to the best of their ability. Gambia is one of ten countries among the newly created zones of the West Africa International Chess Federation within Africa consisting of countries within the southern part of West Africa, he further pointed out, saying their will be the first zonal tournament probably to be held next year.

    “I would really like to see this first tournament to be held in The Gambia as the country will be celebrating its 50th Independence Anniversary,” he remarked, saying they would talk to the Ministry of Youth and Sport and the National Sports Council about it.

    Mr Sedgwick, in conclusion, said he would also do some exercises on multiple choice questions as well as see where they might also need additional training, to help them.

    Link: https://allafrica.com/stories/201403251799.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button