A Short trip to Kyrgyzstan

by Alexandra Samaganova
12/23/2017 – Nigel Short got to cross another country off his already impressive list (now at 123 countries at last check) as he made his first foray to Kyrgyzstan in November at the invitation of MiniChess Central Asia. Alexandra Samanagova's photo report shows a jam-packed five day tour. | Pictured: Press conference at the Sputnik international news agency (left to right: Talant Mamytov, Nigel Short, Bakyt Omurzakov, Robin Ord-Smith) | Photo: MiniChess Team

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Nigel Short, Goodwill Ambassador

The MiniChess program is a unique educational program focusing on early childhood development: linking to mathematics, science and life skills development through chess-related activities. The program was developed by Marisa van der Merwe (South Africa) for "entry phase" learners (5 to 9 years of age) as part of the school curriculum. 

On the invitation of the MiniChess Central Asia, former World Championship challenger Nigel Short, visited Bishkek, the capital city of the Kyrgyz Republic from November 20th-25th, 2017. It was Short's first trip to the Kyrgyz Republic. The goal of his mission was to serve as a MiniChess Goodwill Ambassador promoting early childhood development through chess.

The Kyrgyz Republic (or Kyrgyzstan) is a high mountainous country, located in the heart of Central Asia. | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

The Kyrgyz Republic (or Kyrgyzstan) is a high mountainous country, located in the heart of Central Asia. | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

The eventful program included press-conferences for journalists, several interviews on public radio and TV channels, master-classes, meetings with university students and MiniChess pupils in various schools, as well as simultaneous exhibitions for kids and business society representatives.

Nigel Short giving interviews

Giving interviews at “Direct speech” TV show on the national TV channel “NTS” and Azattyk TV Radio Freedom and sharing his thoughts about role and importance of chess in his life. | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Nigel Short meeting chess fans at the Ololo Art Studio in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Meeting with chess fans at the Ololo art studio was one of the first chess activities of Nigel in Bishkek, during which he shared he thoughts on how chess helps in life | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Serving as a Goodwill Ambassador for the MiniChess Central Asia, Nigel Short visited a number of public schools and educational centres in Bishkek, where the MiniChess program had been successfully launched.

Nigel Short playing with Kyrgyz kids in a MiniChess program

Playing on giant chess board is one of the most favourite activities for kids in a MiniChess Program | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Meeting young players and their parents

Meeting young MiniChess players and their parents | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Nigel Short signing autographs

Inspiring the young generation | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Nigel Short being welcomed at the program

Kyrgyz hospitality | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Short at a public school in Bishkek, Kygyzstan

Attending public school in Bishkek and…

...receiving gifts made by school kids (Kyrgyz traditional felt art) | Photos: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Nigel’s visit also coincided with the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and the Kyrgyz Republic. Being warmly welcomed by Her Majesty's Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Mr. Robin Ord-Smith and the team of the British Embassy in Bishkek, Nigel’s visit signified the importance of relations between the Kyrgyz Republic and the United Kingdom in economy, culture, and sport.

Nigel Short at the Oxford International School, Bishkek

 Attending the Oxford International School in Bishkek and giving a master-class | Photo: Oxford International School

Greatest Hits Vol. 1

Nigel Short takes us on an electrifying journey through a very rich chess career, which saw him beat no less than twelve world champions. His experience in tournaments and matches all over the world – Short has visited a total of 89 countries – can be seen in the narratives that precede the games which he annotates with humour and instructive insights.

Nigel Short giving a motivational speech at Oxford International School

Giving a motivation speech for students “Thoughts on irregular career” at the American University of Central Asia | Photo: Oxford International School

The American University of Central Asia | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Short's master class at Asanbay Art Centre

Masterclass at the Asanbay art centre | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Although, the biggest and the most-awaited event was held on one of the last days of Nigel’s visit to Bishkek. This was a simultaneous exhibition with 25 participants from different areas: business, public authorities, politics, etc. It was organized with the support of the MolBulak Finance Company and the British Embassy in Kyrgyzstan and was held in one of the most luxurious hotels in Bishkek — the Orion Hotel.

Short's simultaneous exhibition

Short's simul in Bishkek | Photo: British Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic

General Director of Mol Bulak Finance, Mr Babur Tolbaev playing against Nigel Short at the simultaneous exhibition

General Director of Mol Bulak Finance Mr. Babur Tolbaev | Photo: British Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic

Nigel Short with Robin Ord-Smith and Dastan-Bekeshev

(Left) Nigel Short and HMA Mr Robin Ord-Smith | (Right) Dastan Bekeshev, member of the Parliament in Kyrgyzstan | Photo: British Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic

Nigel Short at the prize giving ceremony

Prize-giving ceremony: Nigel Short, Babur Tolbaev and Richard Dewell (Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Bishkek) | Photo: British Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic

Organisers and participants of the simultaneous exhibition

Organisers and participants of the simultaneous exhibition | Photo: British Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic

Nigel Short

It really is! | Photo: British Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic

The simul for kids was the last event of Short’s visit to Kyrgyzstan. It was a great opportunity not only for Kyrgyz young chess players but also for the ones from the neighbouring countries to play against the well-known grandmaster.

Short playing a simul with the kids

Simul with the kids | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Nigel Short with the only participant from Kazakhstan

The only participant from Kazakhstan who came to Bishkek especially to meet his chess idol | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Managers of MiniChess Central Asia Mr Bakyt Omurzakov and Mrs Asel Omuralieva with Nigel Short

Exhausted, but cheerful managers of MiniChess Central Asia Mr. Bakyt Omurzakov and Mrs. Asel Omuralieva and Nigel Short after a fruitful chess week in Bishkek | Photo:Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Without any doubt, the coming of Nigel Short to Bishkek was one of the biggest and the most significant events for the chess community in Kyrgyzstan in recent years. The chess fans had not only a chance to learn from one of the greatest chess players by visiting his lectures and master-classes, but also to meet him across the board.

It also helped to attract the attention of the Kyrgyz society to the potential of chess as an educational tool based on the unity of education, culture and sports.

Nigel Short in a group picture with the participating children

With little Spiderman and other tiny chess enthusiasts | Photo: Bakyt Omurzakov/Minichess team

Greatest Hits Vol. 2

Nigel David Short is generally regarded as the strongest British grandmaster of the 20th century. Born on June 1st 1965 he started out as a chess prodigy, first attracting media attention by beating Viktor Korchnoi and Tigran Petrosian in simultaneous exhibitions at the age of ten and twelve years respectively. At the age of 14 he became the youngest IM in history, breaking Bobby Fischer’s previous record, and at 16 he came second (to Garry Kasparov) at the under 20 World Junior Championship in Dortmund.

Alexandra is a chess player from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, born in a chess family. The three-time women’s chess champion of Kyrgyzstan, is a member of a national women’s chess team since 2002. She has represented Kyrgyzstan in six Olympiads (Bled, Turin, Khanty-Mansiysk, Istanbul, Tromso, Baku). She studied linguistics and intercultural communication in the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, and is currently working for the Chaarat Gold Holdings Limited, which focuses on the Tien Shan Gold Belt in Kyrgyzstan, home to some of the largest deposits in the world. Alexandra is also a chess coach in the Kyrgyz Chess Academy (FIDE affiliated).


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