By Victor Okoye
Chess enthusiasts have advised parents on the need to encourage their kids to learn and be involved in the sport.
Some of the enthusiasts spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of a chess tournament organised by Rupetta Academy, to celebrate the World Chess Day in Abuja on Friday.
Katmaan Senlong, an Education Advocate, said the importance of engaging in the sport could not be overemphasised.
“We are here to celebrate the international World Chess Day. This is a tournament to celebrate everyone that plays chess in Nigeria.
“I can’t overemphasise the unique skills you learn by playing chess; reasoning, logical thinking, strategic organisational skills, attention to details and most importantly to think outside the box.
“So, we are here today not just to celebrate the international World Chess Day, but also to encourage youths to embrace this noble game.
“They say it is a game for geniuses, but it’s actually for everyone because today, we are celebrating the fact that we are family,” she said.
Selong who is also the CEO of Rupetta Academy, the organisers of the World Chess Day Tournament, said there was a need to create more awareness about the game in the country.
She said the game needed to be introduced into the curriculum of schools, and parents should be encouraged to enroll their kids into chess clubs, to teach them the skills.
Selong also said that her academy was doing a lot in this regard, adding that they were set to also organise a maiden Summer Tech, Swimming, Coding and Chess programme for kids between six and 12 years old.
“They learn skills they will need to become fantastic leaders tomorrow such as coordination, focus, discipline, concentration, paying attention to details, amongst others.
“I am sure these are familiar words in curriculum vitaes nowadays when one is applying for a new job.
“So, we are here to teach these children these skills because I am a firm believer in the notion that practice makes perfect,” she said.
Bode Durotoye, Chairman, Technical, Nigeria Chess Federation, emphasised on the need for children to learn the game at a very young age.
“This is because it is going to be a gift for life. Chess is life generally and as you develop in life, you develop in the game too.
“I met a young lady here at the age of 10. She was crying after I defeated her, but I had to pet and encourage her that the game of chess was a continuous process.
“You win today, you lose tomorrow. These are the kind of values which the game of chess builds in the lives of children.
“Life is not always rosy, you can be good today, tomorrow is a different situation,” he said.
Anthony Ogor, Chairman, Zalika Chess Club, Abuja, on his part said chess had always been a fun and a game of kings.
“When you play chess, there is this aura of reputation that goes with it. When you see the class of people that play chess, you will quickly attribute intelligence to them.
“Besides that, internally, what chess does to you is that it gives you that air of confidence, especially when you are faced with challenges or troubles.
“Whatever it is, you are able to come up with quick solutions with even few options available to you,” he said.
For eight-year-old chess champion, Ivie Urieto, playing the game made her imbibe the values of discipline, timeliness, politeness and obedience.
“I was introduced to chess by my father at the age of four and I always watched him while he played the game; that was how I fell in love with the game.
“My dream is to represent Nigeria in various International competitions and become a grand master in the next five years,” she said.
Joshua Adejo, a Senior champion, who emerged the winner of the event’s biggest prize, said he was elated to have won in spite of all odds against him.
“I started the game awkwardly but I was able to gain some momentum with my play and deliver those wins at the very critical moments when it mattered most,” he said.
NAN also reports that about 50 players participated in the tournament with mouth-watering prizes awarded to winners in different categories.
The general and female categories both had a prize purse of N100,000 each spread across different winners.
The children category had a N100,000 cash donation with exercise books, mathset and other learning materials. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Chidinma Agu and Emmanuel Afonne