Tuesday, May 13, 2008

First Chess Olympiad: May 3, 2008

As the doors swung open wide, the Great Medieval Hall presented itself to the children, including a 36 foot wide by 14 foot high castle front, 8 foot chess banners and colorful flags strewn around the Hall. As each team entered the great hall they were presented with their own colorful 8 foot high team banner to carry out in front of each team as they marched down the centre isle to the marching sounds of “We Will Rock You” by the band ‘Queen’ and escorted by fully dressed knights...... to present themselves to the King and Queen of the Belize Chess Kingdom who in turn presented each player with a chess medallion as a welcome gift to the competition. For over 20 minutes, the applauding of the spectators, music and drumming continued as each team, one after another, entered the Great Hall.

OF course, the participants had no idea what it takes to create an event like this, but their joy, their excitement made all those efforts worth for us. So who are the people who made it happen?

The Chess Olympiad itself took over 700 man hours of volunteer service to prepare and run the event. But its volunteers like the entire staff of the Caves Branch Jungle Lodge who spent two months preparing for the event, community volunteers who assisted in the set up and running of the event, local business persons who donated products for the event, BDF who provided tents and chairs, the list is endless of the total number of people who assisted in the success of the event. See below our accounting, marketing, reservations staff working on creating outfits,

..guides, using their climbing skills to hang the banners...
and make it look like this:

Pleasant surprise: Kids were excited to see Minister Marin attending the event and accepting a challenge from Corozal team to play one of their students.

Interest in participation was so high from all the districts that we had to limit each school to bring only 4 kids per team. As the result we had 36 teams from all over the country, total 144 primary students competing in this first BELIZE CHESS OLYMPIAD.

10 teams from Toledo

9 teams from Stann Creek

7 teams from Corozal + 1 kid from Orange Walk

5 teams from Cayo

3 teams from Belize City

1 Girls only team: players from Cayo and Toledo

As you can imagine this event was made possbile by the combined effort of all the volunteers, coaches, BDF, students. To show you how truly nation wide those efforts were, take a look at the Tournament Directors List:
Sgt Artemio Sho, Col Omar Pulido – BDF
Bruno Kuppinger, Michael Manley - Toledo
Emil Arguelles, Carlo Arguelles- Belize
Adilson Rosales,
Waine Huang – Cayo
Arturo and Emil Montero- Stann Creek

Puzzle Directors: Debbie Chun, Stann Creek and Melonie Eck, Cayo
Computer Tournament Directors:
Gabriel Baron : HS student, BCA and Frank Tu: UB college Student

Building, installation, supporting team:
Entire Caves Branch Staff

UB Volunteers:
Abel Henriquez, Steven Sho, Myra Verde, Sandino Mendoza, Ariadne Pech. Yahayra Coba
Business Support:
Cardinals Belmopan, Belize Mills, Brodies, Bowen & Bowen, Evan Casey, Toucan Industries, Old Belize, BDF, Wood Depot Belmpan, Abe Dyck, Caribbean Chicken and UB.
Financial Supporters:
Ms. Steffi Lupp, Providence Bank, Caves Branch Jungle lodge staff donations.

Final Results


Overall 1st place: Alfred Awe from St. Matthews team, Stann Creek
Overall 2nd place: Darwin Ramos, Fantastic Four team from George Price Center, Cayo
Overall 3rd place: Edwardo Chen, Hope Creek team, Stann Creek


Section 10 and under: Alyssa Wong, St. Joseph, Belize, Coach: David Martinez

Section 11: Akeem Jenkins, United Evergreen, Cayo, Coach: Ella Anderson

Section 12: Vidal Adolphus, St. Barnabas Anglican, Cayo, Coach: David Coombs
Section 13 and older: Gilbert Parham, Holy Angels, Stann Creek, Coaches:
Cornelius Caetano and Brian Chun

Three Overall winning teams and their coaches
1st place team was shared between 2 teams: Indian Creek, Toledo , Coach: Benjamin Tuario and Holy Angels, Stann Creek, Coach: Cornelius Cayetano and Brian Chun2nd place team: Salvation Army, Belize , Coach: David Martinez
rd place team: St. Francis Xavier R.C, Coach Virgilio Ruiz

Best Female players

Section 10 and under: Ashley Jeffries, Christ the King, Stann Creek

Section 11: Gabriela Ugarte, St. Francis Xavier, Corozal

Section 12: Betty Bull, played for Super Queens Team( combines Cayo and Toledo), Toledo

Section 13 and older: Colleen Tate, Sacred Heart, Stann Creek

Individual winners

10 and under:

1st place: Luis Acosta, Salvation Army, Belize

2nd place: Sahjir Pech, Corozal Knights, Corozal

3rd place: Dominic O’Brian, St. Barnabas Anglican, Cayo


1st place: Kris Sanchez, Holy Angels, Stann Creek
2nd place: Jamil Coleman, Little Flower, Toledo
3rd place: Deraun Hererra, Christ the King Anglican, Stann Creek


1st place: Ishim Gavino, San Francisco de Geronimo, Toledo
2nd place: Manuel Choc, Inidan Creek, Toledo
3rd place: Betty Bull, played for Super Queens team (combined girls from Toledo and Cayo), San Francisco de Geronomo Team, Toledo

13 and older:

1st place: Rick Pascascio, Holy Angels, Stann Creek
2nd place: Benedicto Coc, played for Corozal Knights Team, but he is from San Francisco de Geronimo, Toledo
3rd place: Colleen Tate, Sacred Heart, Stann Creek


For kids: Prizes included medals, trophies and invitations to Sibun Chess Camp, Aug 1-5th, for all individual winners and 4 winning teams and their coaches.

For coaches: complimentary stay and adventure trips at Caves Branch Jungle Lodge, books by Josh Waitzkin "The Art of Learning" and "Attacking Chess", as well as Medals and certificates that were presented to each coach by King Arnold during the Knighting Ceremony.

Recognition is always so important, not only with the children, but also how to recognize adults in an all children organization, in a way that will be meaningful to the adults as well as understood by the children. So with the theme of the day being medieval chess, all the coaches were called up to the stage centre and King Arnold, with the coaches on one knee and a sword in hand, tapped them on the shoulder, “Knighted” all the coaches. With a “gold guilded” Knights medal and a certificate with the Kings signature, all 42 coaches were now “SIR” Chess Coach.

These coaches of the attending teams are: David Martinez, Ariadne Pech, David Coombs, Ricardo Bailey, Frank Tu, Richard Beane, Raymur Ake, Gilberto Perez, Rosana Ake, Nelvio Ek, Virgilio Ruiz, Yadira Montejo, Yahayra Coba, Albert Nunez, Cornelius Cayetano, Brian Chun, Kelvin Baizer, Mikhail Cabral, Kimberly Thompson, Lenox Flores, Micah Williams, Mr. Mariano, Todd Murdock, Roberto Coc, Ericka Jang, Benjamin Tuario, Desiderius Bol, Domingo Salam, Elra Alvarez, Artemon Sho, Gilberto Pop, Jose Teul, Liz Ferris, Carmelo Perez, Rob Magee, Rigoberto Choco, Rodolfo Shal

Stann Creek and Toledo districts are leading the way in teams and youth players due to the local district chess association started by volunteers in Stann Creek and in Toledo by the involvement of the BDF and Jose Teul, former Sports Council Coordinator. Belize, Cayo and Corozal had good participation and seeing the enthusiasm of their chess coaches during the tournament, its only a matter of time before those districts catch up to Toledo and Stann Creek.

Reflection on the event

Our objectives for the Chess Olympiad were met:

- to provide the opportunity for the primary school students to meet players from all districts and realize that they are now part of the truly National “Chess Family”

- bring more public awareness to the fact that chess is an excellent motivational tool that helps to engage children in meaningful and intellectually stimulating activity that provides them with skills that will make them better students, socially and academically

- acknowledge and reward school teachers and community members who volunteer their time to learn the game, organize and run the after school clubs

- give recognition to the district sports coordinators who actively embraced chess as one of the sports activities

- provide opportunities for coaches from remote villages of the country to meet other coaches and learn from each other

- encourage all the participating volunteers to continue their work through the remainder of the school year and through the summer and get the kids off the streets!

What the coaches think.....

“This was a tremendous experience for all of us. We teach the children that if you don’t win a game, you are not a loser, but you learn and would hope that in all aspects and all walks of life we would be taught that way.”

What the spectators think.....

I was also very impressed with how ALL the kids acted when I was there. It is very evident that chess does instill values in the players.

What the kids think...

1) what was the most exciting part of the event for you?

The award ceremony was the best part because we got to see the best chess players and got to see amazing awards.

The most exciting part for me was the challenges that I faced during the Olympiad.

My most exciting part in the event was playing new players and taking part in the Belize first chess Olympiad.

The most exciting part of the event form is meet other people and play different people.

I really enjoyed having our Team Name be announced in front of the audience. Also me and my team walking down the great hall and meeting the “King” and the “Queen”. I really like these things besides of course playing CHESS!!!!

2) How do you feel when you win a chess game?

I feel relaxed and like a champion. I feel good in a way that I am the best.

I felt like a champion with a crown, a throne, a cape, a kingdom. I felt like King for that game.

3) How do you feel when you lose a game?

I feel sad, but I learn from my mistakes.

I still feel good because at least I tired to win plus I faced a worthy opponent. I feel revived , and I know that even though I lost this one, I might win the next one.

I feel sad, like I just lost $5,000,000.00

I felt like a loser, a poor person who picked wrong choices for that game.

I would not say it’s my favorite feeling in the world but I learn something new every time I lose and every time I win.