Jamaica Jamaica Jamaica

There is a very interesting debate taking place on the island of Jamaica concerning the future of chess and how best to harness the talent of its players. Bertram Scott, who runs the Jamaica Ambassadors Chess Academy, has exchanged communication with Jamaican-born GM Maurice Ashley who has in turn, provided some valuable advice:

"Personally, I believe the first step is to train five to ten young people for success in international competitions. If one comes out a big event with a spectacular result, not only will it spur on others but it could also serve to instill some national pride. This will take some time (maybe 2-4 years), but it will also have the added benefit of structuring a solid training regime that will also benefit the top adults in the short term and promote excellence in the longer term. That's why I asked what was being done right now. Who are the top trainers? What methods are they using? How are the using the top software and the Internet? Who are the key young people to focus on and how much time is being invested in them? These are some basic and specific questions that first need to be answered before a plan can be drafted for real success and growth."

Mark Bowen, who runs Chess Ninja's Dojo,  recently conducted an interview with Markland Douglas in which a candid view was provided of the Jamaican chess landscape. He was critical of several elements in Jamaica chess and thus,  will spur further debate. One of the most interesting points made in the interview was when Douglas' mentioned the scarcity of organizers and arbiters on the island and how that may contribute to the lack of progress. He recommends a training program for arbiters and a better system for  tournament direction. 

There were also some interesting comments about intrinsic problems of developing Jamaican talent. Ashley's comments above provide some valuable insight given his experience in American scholastic chess. His influence in Jamaica has brought about notions of the "Maurice Ashley School of Chess." While Ashley has rejected the notion that he can rush in to be the "shining hero," he certainly has  the ability to play an influential role in furthering the progress of chess on the island.


Jamaica Ambassadors Chess Academy, "The Great Chess Debate"
29 November 2005

Chess Ninja's Dojo, Interview: Markland Douglas

Related Sources

The Chess Drum, "The Caribbean Tigers of Chess?"
26 November 2005

The Chess Drum, "An Inside Look at Maurice Ashley's 'Chess for Success'," 
24 August 2005.

The Chess Drum, "Chess in the Caribbean - Hope for the Future,"
5 August 2003

Posted by The Chess Drum: 3 December 2005