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.