The World Chess Federation (FIDE) president Kirsan ILyumzhinov has applauded Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) for the determination they have shown towards the development of chess over the years. ILyumzhinov said BCF is one of the most active chess federations in the world and has made significant strides in the development of the game. ILyumzhinov said this during a press conference in Gaborone last week. The FIDE president, who was in Botswana to meet with relevant stakeholders concerning his endeavour to start the Chess in Schools Programme, said BCF therefore needs help to further their development. ILyumzhinov assured the local chess federation of his support as FIDE president and that of the Russian Chess Federation. The Russian is said to have been instrumental in the Chess in Schools programme in Russia that has yielded very good results. ILyumzhinov said since the programme was introduced in Russian schools in 1993 it has produced great players and they now have a lot of Grandmasters. The FIDE president said he believes that the same approach could work for Botswana. “I have met with the Minister of Basic Education to discuss the chess in school programme. The discussions went well and the minister and his delegation will soon visit Russia to learn more about the programme,” he said.
His vison is to see a lot of people in Botswana understanding and playing chess to grow the game. He said the aim is to increase the number of people who play chess to 1 billion. Botswna seems to be in ILyumzhinov’s good books as the Russian says he is also looking to help to start chess in the villages. He promised that in future there will be sponsorships for Botswana players to study chess at Russian Universities as part of the strategy to grow the game. The open arms of FIDE’s top man towards Botswana can greatly benefit BCF in their endevour to continue growing the game of chess locally. The federation has been strugling to have a top coach for the nationla teams and ILyumzhinov’s support could come handy in this regard. He said with necessary arrangements, BCF can always have grandmasters from Russia to help. BCF president Motlhokomedi Thabano expressed delight at the support the FIDE president has assured to BCF. He thanked ILyumzhinov and FIDE, saying the support will go a long way in helping the federation realise its mission and vision. The chess in schools programme proposition comes at a time when BCF has already made strides in introducing the game at grassroots level.