Belize: painted faces and chess on stilts

6/30/2011 – The Central American nation, south of Mexico, has a population of just 333,000. But in this country, with its spectacular abundance of terrestrial and marine species, chess has become a national passtime. Last May the best players from each district throughout Belize met for what they call a "Chess Olympiad". A special guest at the event, GM Maurice Ashley, sent us this beautiful pictorial report.

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Belize (pronounced Bell-lease) is about 180 miles long and 68 miles wide, bordered to the north by Mexico, south and west by Guatemala, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. It is a constitutional monarchy with a diverse society (population 333,000), comprising many cultures and languages. Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language. The abundance of terrestrial and marine species, and its diversity of ecosystems, give Belize a key place within the globally significant Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.

Orchids are the world's most diverse plant family with the number of species estimated to be between 30,000 to 40,000 in over 800 genera. They come in astonishing shapes, colour, texture and incredible perfume that will vary depending on the time of the day or night. Some of them are so delicate that you need to have a magnifying glass to see them. It is one of the great feats of nature when you consider how these flowers manipulate, connive, court, seduce and deceive insects into getting them pollinated.

Belize Chess Olympiad 2011

Pictorial report by GM Maurice Ashley

Last May the best of the best chess players from each District throughout Belize met at the UB Gymnasium in Belmopan to represent their districts in the Grand National.

This event was the so-called "Olympiad" in Belize and was televised live on national TV for the entire duration (over eight hours!). It was organized by the Belize National Youth Chess Foundation, founded and run by Ella Anderson, a former Russian emigre who is now married to the proprietor of Caves Branch Jungle Lodge.

There was face painting, a live chess game on stilts (!), multiple sections (one of which included octogenarians), and loud drums and smoke to introduce anyone who went on stage.

I arrived from the US in the middle of the event, and was treated like a rock star. After my motivational speech, I spent the next three hours on live TV answering questions and doing commentary on the top games. Needless to say, I had a blast!



They are deadly serious about elevating the level of play all over the country. Just recently, they hired Women's IM Sonia Zepeda from El Salvador to come live and work as a full-time coach.

The best kids, most of whom are dirt poor, have now had the opportunity to travel abroad and meet other young players in nearby countries (Guatemala and Mexico).


Top Team: 1st – Supreme Pawns SC: Ivan Pixabaj, Ivor Pixabaj, Alfred Awe, Javier Lisbey


2nd (tie) place – Famous Knights: E. Cayo, Gabriel Cocom, Jeremy Chiang, Christian Velasquez, Akeem Jenkins and The Generals, Bze, Marc Noble, Dwayne Rodriguez, Steve Flowers, Joshua Gegg


3rd place – Crusty Kings SC: Kenrick Fransisco, Lloyd Augustine, Kris Sanchez, Rick Pascasio


First place Female Team Toledo, Powerful Queens: Juanita Rash, Silvia Pan, Virginia Cus, Betty Bul. Toledo is the leading district in the country in developing and promoting chess among the girls. Congratulations, Toledo!


Individual results, eight years and under: 1st Gabriel Cocom, E. Cayo; 2nd Delroy Chan, SC; 3rd Aaron Tamay, Czl; 4th Isani Cal, Tol; 5th Stefan Henderson, E. Cayo; 6th Nigel Romero, Tol


Best female individual players: Nia Beane, E. Cayo, Isiaris Barrera, E. Cayo, Juanita Rash, Tol, Tatiana Henderson E. Cayo, Teresita Rash, Tol , Maricela Cocom, E. Cayo.

The program has taken a foot-hold in this small country, the only impediment being sponsorship that the Federation needs to keep it going. Their website can be found here.


Latest DVD by Maurice Ashley

Many times, when a top player blunders, it is routinely described by the esoteric term “chess blindness“. In this series What Grandmasters Don‘t See, chess trainer and worldclass commentator Maurice Ashley strips away the myth and for the first time explains why the root of these mistakes is more often based in the psychology of human learning.

In this DVD, Volume 2 of the three part series, Ashley shows that no other standard tactical theme is more over-rated, overlooked and misunderstood than the Discovered Attack. In each example, Ashley illustrates how often players are confused by discovered attacks because the examples in the majority of chess books are poorly chosen to show how this important tactical idea really works in most practical games.

In the first half of the DVD, Ashley uses interesting and entertaining positions to explain the points in his trademark effervescent style. The second half of the DVD is filled with examples to test what you have learned about discovered attacks, with a series of exercises of increasing difficulty. The material is drawn both from classic and from recent games. Video running time: 3 hours 36 minutes.

Order it here
 

Sample video


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