Government and Gibtelecom bring Community Chess Professional to Gibraltar
At a press conference held at the Caleta Hotel on 17 January 2013, the venue for the upcoming 11th Tradewise Gibraltar International Chess Festival, the appointment of British chess Grandmaster, Stuart Conquest, as a Gibraltar Community Chess Professional was announced. Stuart is being contracted by Gibtelecom to further advance and promote chess throughout the community, with special emphasis on encouraging the playing of chess in schools.
The Community Chess Professional will formulate future strategies for developing chess in Gibraltar, focusing mainly on schools. There is a wealth of research that has documented the academic and social benefits of chess, identifying that the game improves analytical skills, strategic thinking, decision making and even encourages patience amongst other attributes. In his role as Community Chess Professional Stuart will also be responsible for managing the annual Gibraltar Junior International Chess Festival, which was successfully launched by the organisers of the main festival in the summer of 2011, as well as coordinating international chess visits and coaching provision in schools. He will also look at opportunities for developing the sport in the wider community, co-ordinating with local chess organisations, workplace and community groups where chess may aid health and awareness.
The initiative has been developed by the Chess Festival organisers, in particular Brian Callaghan, Chairman of the Caleta Hotel (who provide the venue for the tournaments), James Humphreys from Tradewise Insurance (who have been the leading commercial sponsor since the 2011 tournament) and Tim Bristow, CEO of Gibtelecom (who were originally the lead commercial sponsor and now focus on providing technical support for the live streaming of the event on the internet). This project is being done in conjunction with the Gibraltar Sports and Leisure Authority and the Government of Gibraltar, who are providing financial support for the initiative.
Speaking to the press, Minister for Sports, Culture, Heritage and Youth, Steven Linares, spoke about how “as with many sports played locally, Gibraltar has already seen some international success with the rise of a potential international chess champion. Stephen Whatley, at the age of nine, is already representing England internationally at chess and teams of local school children are doing well in the UK National Schools Championships. We hope this community chess initiative will continue to develop the game locally and I am sure that we will continue to see more success for Gibraltar chess in the future.”
Tim Bristow expressed how “Gibtelecom values supporting the community as demonstrated through its involvement in sponsoring many sporting, cultural and charitable activities over the years. When the festival was first being mooted the Company saw this as an opportunity for promoting and developing the game of chess in Gibraltar, as has been evident from the growth in the game’s popularity in local schools. This new project is a next step in ensuring the continuing success of chess locally and we are delighted to be associated with this initiative.”
Stuart Conquest added “I am committed to the promotion of chess in Gibraltar and to the continuation of the work already being done through the coaching visits in recent years, which have seen over 500 children being taught to play.” Stuart has been playing chess since a young age, winning the World Under-16 Championship at the age of 14 and was the British Chess Champion in 2008. Since the mid-1990s, he has been a frequent member of the England team at Chess Olympiads and other championships. Stuart has been involved with the Gibraltar International Chess Festival for many years, initially as a commentator on the tournaments live web stream, and later as tournament director.
17 January 2013