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Sorry folks, I have missed three weeks of this column, it is due to my very busy schedule of different chess activities. Just this Sunday, one of those activities ended in a successful third place finish at the 1st Pro Chess Quarterly tournament in Ibadan. In five rounds, I won four games including two Fide rated players while drawing FM Daniel Anwuli. It was my return to tournament chess and it sparked thoughts for the development of professional chess in my mind.
First of all, the Nigerian chess community must commend itself for the spate of chess tournaments in the country. This need to be sustained and increased as we march forward so that the trend can contribute significantly to chess prosperity and making Nigeria a thinking nation. Chess Heights itself has set a goal of producing five million Nigerian players in five years; all these efforts by the community are vital.
There are may players who would like to be millionaires from playing chess but in the current dispensation, this is not feasible. The only way to make sustainable money from chess is being employed as a player for an oil rich state or running thriving chess business. You can also get by from being a chess instructor under the major chess academies or starting your own. But being a millionaire from just professional chess is a pipe dream.
All these can change. What you may be asking is , how? The answer is simple to any student of sports business: professional chess can only thrive when there is a large audience for the sport. The onus now lies with chess players and others who want professional chess to find ways of increasing the size of the chess audience.
I will now mention ways Chess Heights is trying to increase the size of the chess audience; there are two main ways for this aim:
One: massive chess education
Two: interest arousing chess competitions.
Chess Heights tries to fulfill the chess education part with Chess Heights Academy. We use chess to develop the intellect of primary school children while teaching secondary school kids how to play good chess. We also give attention to adults who want to learn to play chess through giving classes. We do not limit our chess education efforts to Chess Heights academy, however. We support in anyway we can the efforts of chess trainers who want to teach chess to others.
As for interest arousing competitions, Chess Heights has been organizing events since 2008. We have organized about 40 competitions so far, with the next event being on September 5. However I realize that for chess to be a big sport, the event and this goes not only to Chess Heights events, need to interest a large audience that includes those who do not even play the game yet.
My last words in this short article goes to chess players: “Try to use your cultivated chess intellect and developed character to solve problems in the larger society and bring prosperity to yourselves”.