From November 8-12, 2023, the Director for Chess Development of the International Chess Federation, Nigel Short, visited Namibia, where he held several meetings with local authorities, chess officials and sponsors, went to see a local school and gave a simul to Namibian chess players. The visit was a part of FIDE’s initiative to promote chess growth and development in African countries.
During the meeting with the British High Commissioner Charles Moore and officials of the Namibian Chess Federation, Nigel Short discussed the ways to bring positive change to the chess development in the country.
The FIDE official paid visits to Peoples Primary School in Katutura, where he met schools’ principals, teachers and members of local chess clubs. For many of them, it was the first time they met a grandmaster; the opportunity to talk to and play chess with the three-time Commonwealth Champions was very inspiring and motivating.
“My job is to assist the smaller federations. I have come to talk to the federation and find about the chess situation in the country. I think I have seen that chess in Namibia is promising, and there are activities in schools,” Short said.
“Schools are very important if you need to increase the base of the chess players. I was at several schools in Namibia, and it was pleasing to see activity,” he added.
During the visit, Short gave a simultaneous exhibition against 20 Namibian chess players, winning 17 and drawing three. FIDE Director for Chess Development also attended the presenting chess boards to the school from the Gift of Chess initiative.
As part of the visit, Nigel Short also played in the 2023 Windhoek Open Grand Prix Leg. Short, who became the first English player to play a World Chess Championship match in 1993, won all seven games against Danny Chipandeka, Genius Sihlala, McLean Handjaba, Jemusse Zhemba, Heskiel Ndahangwapo, Lutopu Khoa, and Sibusiso Angula. It was the first time a chess grandmaster participated in a tournament in Namibia.
“The level of chess displayed was very high. Grandmaster Short was very impressed with what we are doing as a federation. In terms of competitiveness, we have set the bar high on the African front. We are beating countries like South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana when it comes to event organization,” said Goodwill Khoa, President of the Namibian Chess Federation.
He added that players were inspired by the presence of a grandmaster participating in the tournament, and hopefully, it would boost chess development in the country.
The visit also attracted considerable attention in Namibian media. It will help to get more interest in the game among people of the country and potential sponsors who can invest in organizing tournaments and supporting new talents in Namibia.