Chess Moves: Cruise to the Caribbean

3/10/2006 – Chess is simple to learn but hard to be very good at. Therefore, in order to be a better player, one must work. But to many sitting down alone reading chess books can be quite boring. Apart from that: who is there to teach you? Well, why not do it on a dream cruise? Chess doesn't get any better.

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The Chess Moves Cruise was the idea of the year. During the week of January 14 – 21, 2006, the first ever Chess Moves Cruise took place with GM Susan Polgar, GM Joel Benjamin and GM Larry Christiansen and approximately 90 other chess players from Canada, Ireland, Mexico and all across the United States.


Some other luxury cruise ships at Nassau, Bahamas: Norwegian, Disney, Carnival


Arriving in the Bahamas, - going to town with good friends


The scene at Port Nassau, Bahamas


Tommy and Leeam, the next generation of Polgars


Tommy and Leeam with their best friends Sarah and Sofia from Mexico City

Chess Moves is the brainchild of Mr. Neil Bauman, Captain and CEO of Geek Cruises. The idea is to give chess enthusiasts a chance to spend a week learning from well-known chess professionals while enjoying the best of what luxury cruises have to offer. The Chess Movers have regular itineraries as any other passenger on the cruise. The only difference is while the ship is traveling from one destination to another, they spend time with the Grandmasters learning to improve their chess.


A view of the magnificent Atlantis Casino and Resort


Atlantis Casino and Resort


Condominium hotels at Atlantis

To be honest, no one really knew what to expect at first but they just loved the concept. They were very pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the Chess Moves Cruise and they met some of the most fantastic people who all share something in common: their love for chess! They probably learned more from one week on the Chess Moves Cruise than they can learn an entire year without.


Ah, you have to get down and boogie on board

Most people arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Friday, January 13, 2006. There was an optional get together that night at the Renaissance Hotel in Plantation, Florida (a suburb of Fort Lauderdale). Accompanying grandmaster Benjamin was his wife (she plays for the Irish Chess Olympiad Team) and his mother. Grandmaster Christiansen brought his wife (a participant in the upcoming 2006 US Championship in San Diego), his sister and brother among others. Susan Polgar brought her two children (who are chess fanatics themselves. Her six year old elder son is rated around 1500).

At noon on Saturday, January 14, 2006, everyone was bussed to the beautiful MS Zuiderdam of Holland America Line. After a short check-in, the Chess Movers were on the magnificent cruise ship.


The Zuiderdam, which we used to visit Atlantis


That is one big ship!


A unique view of Tortola taken from the front of the Zuiderdam


The beautiful beach in Tortola, British Virgin Islands


St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands


Local guava fruit in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

What so great about a cruise is the dining and activities on board. You will never go hungry on board and definitely not bored, especially with Chess Moves. Gourmet food, fine wine, fantastic shows and entertainment, incredible atmosphere, wonderful scenery, bountiful activities, and Chess, Chess, Chess!


GM Joel Benjamin with two young Chess Movers


What do kids do for fun? Play chess, of course!


Chess, wherever you look


A Chess Moves class session with GM Susan Polgar

During the next 7 days, the attendees got to enjoy many exciting destinations such as St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands), Tortola (British Virgin Islands) and Nassau (Bahamas). While on board, they had a chance to attend countless chess classes, learning everything from openings, middlegames, endgames, tactics and chess strategies, etc. In addition, many got to spend time in private sessions with the various instructors.


Chess Moves Instructors and students: GMs Larry Christiansen, Susan Polgar and Joel Benjamin. Standing are the Saggiante family from Mexico City: Jorge, his wife Veronica and their two children Sarah and Sofia.

Wonderful friendships were built and everyone walked away with long-lasting memories of an incredible seven days. Everyone was sorry that it only lasted 7 days. The next cruise will be a special Alaskan Cruise on August 14-21. The instructors on the Alaska Cruise will be GMs Susan Polgar, Alex Onischuk, Walter Browne, Alex Stripunsky, Larry Christiansen and me. This promises to be another incredible chess adventure for the next group of Chess Movers.


Port Nassau, Bahamas at night


Atlantis at night! What an unforgettable view!

Report and photos by Paul Truong



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