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  • Sekou Hendrickson

Chess club growing in size

Trading pieces: Bermuda Chess Association members Jamel Warren, left, and Sami Lill do battle at the corner of Court and Dundonald Streets (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Chess fans are ahead of the game after a successful year of development on-island and overseas.

Sam Lill, spokesman for the Bermuda Chess Association, said 2018 was a “year of firsts” for the strategy board game.

He explained: “We went to the CARIFTA Chess Championship for the first time in over the Easter period.

“This is also the first time we’ve entered a women’s team in the Chess Olympiad in Georgia and we sent a team to the Pan-American Games.”

Bermuda’s women’s team tied for third place in their Group E out of 29 countries at the Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia. Mr Lill said: “To put this into perspective, Bermuda beat Liberia, who has a population of five million; we have 1 per cent of their population and still came out on top.

“Other countries have a much bigger bucket to draw their talent from, so for Bermuda, the tiniest speck in the ocean, to perform that well is fantastic.”

Mr Lill added that an increasing number of people on the island were taking up the game for fun.

He said it was also hoped to expand the association’s Chess in Schools scheme and there are plans to establish a chess programme for prisoners.

Mr Lill said that more players was good news for Bermuda because chess could boost intelligence.

He explained: “Chess increases your ability to remember, it promotes your forward-planning ability and it promotes patience and concentration.

“Quite literally, it increases people’s intelligence.”

Andrea Marshall-Harris, another member of the BCA, said that the tournament success had sparked more interest in chess. The association’s memberships has more than doubled to about 50 in the past year.

Ms Marshall-Harris added: “We’re still in the early stages of our national chess development, but I think we’re doing well.”

She said that studies showed that chess increased brain growth, problem-solving skills and memory. Mr Lill added: “Kids who have problems with concentration have shown to do better if they learn chess and they do it in prisons and schools all over the world as a reformation tool.”

He said that the Chess in Schools programme offered free chess lessons to pupils in six schools.

Don Dacres, a member of the BCA, said that sponsorship from the Corporation of Hamilton had led to the installation of chess boards on Court Street and Victoria Street.

Mr Lill added: “There’s been a lot of personal involvement, volunteer time, blood, sweat and tears put into this.”

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