THE game of chess is capable of honing young minds, making productive citizens and significantly impacting the crime rate over time, according to two young champions.
Nathan Smith and Daijah Johnson, fresh from the CAC games, talked about the potential benefits of chess at a press conference on Monday, where they were officially thanked by the Bahamas government for their stellar performance.
Chess, the pair said, forces you to use your mind to win a battle on a game board, teaching lessons along the way that can help you make better decisions in life.
Nathan, a home-schooled student and the under eight champion of the CAC games, said when playing chess, you must think about every move you make – just like in life.
Daijah, who placed an impressive 5th overall, said more children should play chess as it requires you to plan ahead for your next move.
The skills and talents that can be developed through the game should be introduced to students from a young age, like in the case of the two champions, as part of an effort to create more conscious and law-abiding citizens, according to the Bahamas Chess Federation.
The federation is seeking more funding and support to help promote the game.
Members want people to know that chess is a sport with international competitions and awards, and can benefit people from all walks of life.
The young chess champions were supported by their parents and the federation during a press conference and courtesy call with the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr Daniel Johnson, and Director of Sports Tim Munnings.
Dr Johnson said Nathan’s amazing win and Dejah’s commendable performance provide a wonderful opportunity for his ministry to highlight the work of those who are often not taken as seriously as athletes in other disciplines.
But the fact that the Bahamas pulled a win at the CAC games stands as proof that games like chess should not be overlooked, but rather embraced by schools around the country, the minister said.
He called for more schools to provide opportunities for their students to participate in extra-curricular activities like chess, as they provide outlets for positive energy and lay down strong foundations for productivity as opposed to violence.
Ama Ferguson, Nathan’s grandmother, called for public and private entities to consider providing funding for the Bahamas Chess Federation to continue its work.
Andre White, federation president, was present along with secretary Nathaniel Higgs and committee member Dr David Sands to officially congratulate the young athletes, who used their minds to pull off the amazing performances.
Nathan recalls that competitors from other Caribbean islands tried to use diversion and intimidation tactics to try and take the win, but he remained focused and conquered them all.
It’s this kind of victory that he wants other young people to experience so that they can seek positive and constructive things to do, rather than getting into trouble.
His parents, Henria Ferguson-Smith and Gurth Smith, expressed pride in their son’s CAC games victory.
Deijah, who is head girl at CW Sawyer Primary School, said she finds that chess helps her in homework and studying as well, and encouraged her peers to consider the game.
Her parents, Samantha Mackey and Darvin Johnson, were on-hand to support their daughter and receive the congratulations of the minister.