By Samuel Sanya
GARRY Kasparov’s second visit to Uganda kicked off on the right note with corporates reaching into their deep pockets to support the development of chess in schools and around the country.
The mood was jovial at the Serena hotel as chess sponsors, fans and some players turned up to support the game. The highlight was a group of children from the Kagoma Gate primary school in Eastern Uganda that made their first ever trip to Kampala on the chess ticket.
Kagoma is one of the poorest areas in Uganda with most residents deriving their incomes from sugarcane shambas and local gin brewing.
“The chess board is the ideal tool to explain legal frame works, the effect of our actions and the development of critical thinking. Chess is very necessary in modern education as it prepares children to relate with the daily life challenges,” Kasparov said.
Turning to the six Kagoma school pupils, Kasparov paused and said that elementary level children hold the future of chess not just in Uganda but in the entire world.
He added that chess is a form of constructive entertainment for young children and that school absenteeism generally reduces when chess is part of school curriculum following research done in Johannesburg schools in South Africa.
Kagoma pupils are beneficiaries of a mini-chess project currently being run by the Kasparov foundation, a South African based mini-chess firm, two US based charities ‘The Giving Circle’ and ‘Sports Outreach Ministries.’
Mark Bertrand, founder of the US based ‘The Giving Circle’ and Moses Wambi Mukhwana the team leader of the Giving Circle Africa noted that grades for the primary three and four pupils have improved and that the chess language such as diagonals, squares and racks is essential for pupils to understand maths.
“We have so far run the project for four months and the results are amazing. In the next three years we hope to move from basic training to more technical, strategy based training,” Mukhwana said.
Afrika Msimang, the Africa director of the Kasparov foundation pledged continued support for the mini-chess programme in Kagoma.
She noted that the Kasparov foundation is canvassing for donor funds to roll out the programme in schools in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Lesotho.