Jamaica has a new target – to produce a chess grandmaster within the next decade.
To demonstrate its commitment to this objective, the government has pledged to allocate $40 million to the Jamaica Chess Federation through the Ministry of Sport.
To assist with this mission, Maurice Ashley, a Jamaican-born grandmaster who represents the United States, has offered to lead this national effort in conjunction with the Jamaica Chess Federation.
Dr Nigel Clarke, the Minister of Finance, disclosed during his contribution to the Budget Debate that Ashley is willing to “godfather” the initiative.
Ashley, who is also an author and commentator, has been inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame.
Clarke indicated that with Ashley’s involvement, the Ministry and the Jamaica Chess Federation will work together to create a national program to achieve this goal.
In addition, the federation will pursue a broad-based chess-in-schools program.
Jamaica has a proven track record of success at the international level in a variety of physical sports, as the minister pointed out.
He highlighted the accomplishments of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Leon Bailey, and Raheem Sterling, among others. Clarke believes that Jamaica’s unwavering drive and determination to succeed will enable the country to produce a chess grandmaster.
“With so many bright minds all over Jamaica, the next area ripe for competitive conquest is the prestigious game of chess,” he said.
Ashley, who became the first black person to achieve the title of chess grandmaster in 1999, is a source of pride for the nation.
Clarke believes that it is time for another Jamaican to follow in his footsteps. Although the Jamaican chess community has produced two homegrown international masters without much national support, Clarke believes that with dedicated national support, even greater achievements can be attained.
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