The Bahamas Chess Federation (BCF) has ratified a 10-member team that will represent The Bahamas at the 2022 FIDE (International Chess Federation) Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India. The 44th edition of the competition is set for July 28 to August 10.
Representing The Bahamas on the open team are Fide Master (FM) Cecil Moncur, Candidate Master (CM) Kendrick Knowles, Woman Fide Master (WFM) Polina Karelina, Dr. Kenville Lockhart and Noah Albury. They will be coached and captained by Grandmaster (GM) Renier Gonzales.
Moncur, Knowles and Karelina make their return to the Olympiad. Albury, who is 16-years-old, is the youngest player to qualify for the open team.
The woman’s team will be represented by WCM Antoinette Seymour, WCM Daijah Johnson, Nelissa Thomas, Jayla Cargill and Chika Pride. The coach is Gonzales and the captain for the women’s team is Dr. Joseph Ferguson.
Seymour and Johnson make their return to the Olympiad. At age 11, Pride is the youngest Bahamian to qualify for the Olympiad team.
BCF 2nd Vice President Curtis Pride Sr. said that choosing the team was not an easy task.
“A lot of chess players were not active during COVID. Some of our chess players took advantage of COVID and trained very hard and that is why some are sitting here today – because they took advantage of that time and practiced. We have seen tremendous growth over the two years that we have been limited due to COVID,” he said.
It is the first time that there is a face-to-face Olympiad since 2018. It was slated for Russia but India stepped up to host after war surfaced between Russia and Ukraine earlier this year.
Director of Sports in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Timothy Munnings spoke about the relationship that the ministry and the federation has.
“We are very excited at what the BCF and its athletes are doing. The ministry has been assisting the federation for some time now. Based on the results that we are seeing and the increasing number of chess masters, I can tell you that we are committed to continuing to assist the federation in its efforts,” Munnings said.
BCF Treasurer Elton Joseph, who has played in two Olympiads for The Bahamas, said that it is an experience that involves living away from home, having a roommate, hours of competition and practice and staying healthy.
“It is a great honor to represent one’s country at the Chess Olympiad. Only 10 players from a country can represent the country regardless of population size. The 10 players who will represent The Bahamas have done a great job and this is a great accomplishment. It is the pinnacle of chess competition to represent one’s country at, but it is also a unique experience,” said Joseph.
Knowles, who is also BCF President, said that it is fit and proper to ask for support from the community, country and Corporate Bahamas.
“From the administrative side of things, I know that resources are limited and we need your financial support,” Knowles said. “As a player, who competed in prior Olympiads, it was always amazing to see neighboring countries in front of the chess board. They will have a few things – their flag and some form of representation of some form of corporate sponsorship on the chest of the jacket or shirt that they wear. It was a beautiful thing to see as it shows they have the national and civic commitment from their country, but they also have the economic commitment from the corporate sponsors within the country.”
Interested persons can donate by sending an e-mail to the address firstname.lastname@example.org or contribute on the federation’s donation page – togetherbahamas.com, then search Bahamas chess to find the campaign.