Friday, May 22, 2009

First International Chess Cultural Event

1st Annual Mexico/Belize Goodwill Chess Tournament
The idea of the tournament was not simply to hold an international chess tournament, but to build goodwill between Belize and Mexican chess communities and to create respect and lasting friendships between the young chess players of both countries. The Mexican Team arrived on the 12th of June and spent their first night bonding with the Belizean team at Caves Branch Jungle Lodge. That night all the players were playing ball, swimming, making friendship bracelets and socializing with each other, there was no chess.

Coach from Corozal shows local orchids and plants in the botanical garden at Caves Branch to the Mexican team.

The following day, Saturday, all 23 players, their coaches and chaperons proceeded to the Mexican Embassy in Belmopan for the actual Tournament, hosted by Ambassador and Mrs. Lopez Marino and co sponsored by the Mexican Embassy and the BNYCF.

Tournament in progress: 5 rounds, game 25.

The best thing for us, coaches, is to see that our students show sportsmanship skills and know how to win, but MORE importantly, they know how to lose with dignity. Alfred Awe from Stann Creek lost a difficult game to his Mexican opponent, but you still can see him smiling as they shake hands.

Between the rounds you could see the Mexican coaches working hand in hand with our Belizean coaches on analyzing the games and helping players from both teams to improve their games.

Mexican players enjoyed very much all the puzzles and art activities between the rounds: making chess pieces out of clay
During the award ceremony Jouharra Jou from Orange Walk, captain of the Belizean team exchanged letters and drawing that the teams made for each other
Mexican Team at the Award Ceremony: Although all players from both teams played to the very last game of the five rounds, it was The Mexican Team that won the tournament. CONGRATULATIONS !
As is taught to all chess players in Belize, there are “winners and learners” and all the Belizean players certainly admitted to learning a great deal from the tournament and from the Mexican players who all proved to not only being top players but wonderful sportsman as well.
Belizean Team:

And both teams together wearing T-shirts that were presented to all the participants by the Mexican Embassy

After the tournament the Mexican Ambassador and his wife joined us for the cultural night, during which each team made a number of presentations of their cultures. Among the presentations there were skits, drumming, slide show, puppet show and special tastings of the local foods that Belizean team prepared to share with each participant.

The Mexican team responded with similar presentations and presented gifts to all the participants.

The culminating activity was going on the adventure trip into the caves to prove one more time that the real chess players must have not only good chess skills, but the stamina and energy and the adventure spirit.

Near the end of the trip, to the surprise of the Mexican team, they were challenged for one more game of chess deep inside the cave !
Real chess players can enjoy the game anywhere, including the caves!

A special thank you to Ambassador and Mrs. Lopez Marino for their hospitality at the Mexican Embassy and to the Caves Branch Jungle Lodge for providing all the accommodations, meals and hospitality to all the members of both teams for the three days.

And finally the buses took all the players back home. We made new friiends and looking forward to the next year event!

Below you can see the names of hte players on our National TEAM 2009!
Joshua Chiang
Richard Beane
Brent Coombs
Clifford Coleman
Jamir Sanchez( alternate)
Akeem Jenkins( alternate)
Stann Creek:
Alfred Awe
Fitzroy Chan
Kris Sanchez
Nayir Marin
Coleen Tate
Marco Liu
Silvano Pau
Orange Walk:
Jouharra Jou, Team Captain
Support group: Maricella and Carlos Cocom
Coaches: Jose Teul , Brian Chun, David Coombs, Humberto Juarez