Trinidad and Tobago’s women and men prison chess teams placed third and fifth respectively at the Inter-Continental Chess Competition which held virtually last week.
After weeks of preparations, training and development, TT’s participants performed admirably at their debut showing.
A statement issued by the TT Chess Association (TTCA), on Sunday, said, “In keenly contested competitions that spanned a two-day period, the participants said they were honoured and bewildered by the opportunity to represent TT, and could not have imagined a better start to their first online competition.”
The players, 22 prisoners from Remand Yard, Maximum Security, Port of Spain, Golden Grove and the Women’s prisons, said they were motivated to continue playing the game as it teaches them life-lessons.
Prisons commissioner Dennis Pulchan visited the teams prior to the start of the competition and wished them the best of luck. He also thanked chess association president Sonja Johnson for the efforts she and her team placed into the initiative.
The championship was hosted by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Chicago, in collaboration with the International Chess Federation, as part of its “Chess for Freedom” project.
The TTCA was first invited to introduce chess in the prisons in 2006. Then president Bhisham Soondarsingh, another ex-president Lionel Dechi and former police Sgt. David Worrell conducted three days of chess for the inmates of two prisons which ended with a tournament among themselves.
This event was co-ordinated under the TT Prison Service programmes department. Additionally, iGovTT, a division of the Ministry of Digital Transformation, offered ten laptops on loan, for use by the prison team players during competition.
From September 9-17, the qualifying competitions were held at the five prisons. These five rounds were contested by 90 participants from which 22 were (16 men, six women) were selected to compete.