Chess - it is a complex game that tests logic and strategy while requiring total concentration and focus. And, on Saturday the top 200 young chess players in the country were focused on the 5th annual National Chess Olympiad. It was held at the UB gymnasium in Belmopan and chess players ranging in age from 6 to 18 competed. But it wasn't only about chess. The players and spectators were treated to a day full of activity from face painting to kite making to stilt walking to Ozzy the clown. The BNYCF national director expressed her surprise at the amount of competitors, and her pleasure at the growing number of players.
Ella Baron Anderson, BNYCF - National Program Director
"At this point we have about 2,000 chess players throughout the whole country and we notice that some districts like Orange Walk had very few players until last year all of a sudden it's like they awoke. A lot of players came for the first time, so they never participated before."
"This is the second generation of players who are necessarily taught by us coaches but they were taught by the other players in their community."
Marciela Cocum, 16 yr. old #1 rank female player
"I was really nervous but I tried my best in playing the game. I put a lot of effort in it. I loss, but it was really a good game. Each one of us had about 2 minutes in the game, so it was a very long game and I think it was the best game I played today. It was really tough; I put all my effort in it."
Gian Escalante, 15 yr. old player
"It helps you focus. When you are in school you focus more and it makes you concentrate very good about what you are reading or doing."
Michael Campos, 15 yr. old player
"I thought it was boring at first but then one of my friends named Kevin Frazer told me that if I played the game it would actually be fun, so I listen to him and start playing the game and eventually it turned out great for me."
Chris Sanchez, 16 yr. old tournament director
"I started to teach them and the next thing I know I just started to like these guys and couldn't let them go and so I just continue teaching them. It's from the heart."
Ozzy the Clown
"It's a carnival event going on compact with something to learn in every stage that is around here for example; one might look at me and say that I twist balloon, one might look at the stilt walker and say oh, he walk on stilts. At the same time the guys are playing chess which is something great. There is something here for everyone."
And now, for another perspective on the Olympiad - we have a report from 14 year old Angela Noble - who went to see her younger siblings play - and filed this report, with an interesting youth perspective:..
The youngest competitor was 5 year old Omary Medina from St. Joseph's Primary School who emerged as the top female player in the 8 and under category, and the oldest was 85 year old Nellie Quiqley who competed in the special seniors division.