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A plan to take Kuki chess global

Saturday September 29, 2018 Written by Published in Local
Sixteen-year-old Keanu Vavia concentrates during a game at the Cook Islands Chess Club. The club meets at the RSA in Panama on Wednesday nights. A student at Tereora College, Keanu has been playing the ancient game for three years.18092702 Sixteen-year-old Keanu Vavia concentrates during a game at the Cook Islands Chess Club. The club meets at the RSA in Panama on Wednesday nights. A student at Tereora College, Keanu has been playing the ancient game for three years.18092702

Gerard Akers and his wife Liza have global ambitions – to make Cook Islands’ chess a recognised part of the world sport.

 

To do so the Akers have set up the CI Chess Club to bring together devotees of the ancient game, together with those who are interested in knowing the difference between a knight and a pawn.

The club meets at 7pm on Wednesday evenings at the RSA in Panama.

 “I’m from New York, Lisa is from here. We were married here 26 years ago and came back to semi retire, and have a passion for chess and trying to promote it on the island.

“This is designed to hopefully get us recognised in the world chess federation.  We have to have an established chess club and that’s what this is all about. Learning international rules, using a clock, touch move and recording your moves.”

Arrivals at the tournament nights vary, last Wednesday they were expecting 12 people.

“Sometimes we get newcomers as word of mouth spreads. The youngest player is 10, the oldest is 60.”

And how good a player is Akers?

“I’m an okay player, my wife just likes to watch the games. She doesn’t have time to play.

“We are teaching chess at four different schools. Akatemia was the first, we taught at Te Uki Ou, Tereora college and Nukutere is the latest. 

“We are trying to spread ourselves around to introduce it to all the different schools.

“It has been received well by the kids. It’s not for everybody – as you know.  I give them a little chess quiz, with diagrams of positions and they have to write down the right moves. There has been a tremendous interest and a lot of them have been part of the chess club because of that.

“There are no fees yet, this has all been free. In January we will we start enrolments - probably $20 for adults and $10 for children, a modest fee.

“And then there will be entry fees for the tournaments - so this way if you don’t show up you will get a loss. I don’t want people thinking: ‘Oh I don’t feel like going tonight. Having committed an entrance fees, hopefully you will see it through to the end.”

Akers says: “I’ve been a passionate chess player since I was very young and I know the benefits of it. Creativity and imagination of art, it has the calculation of science and math and the competitiveness of sport, because the object of it is to win.

It has been proven that chess, especially introduced to children, assists them in many aspects of their career paths.

“Here they’re not only using clocks and writing down their moves, but they are also looking at the board and analysing the position. So they are multi-tasking and that’s preparing them for working life.

“The 60 minutes they’ll be having tonight helps them with time management.”

Akers says he and Liza are looking at bringing chess to the elderly because we believe it will help with their thinking – and even with playing with their grandchildren.

The club has various tournament formats at their meetings ranging from one game each Wednesday over four weeks, to a quick-fire speed chess evening where each player only has 10 minutes on his clock to beat opponents in nine games.

Apart from his conviction that chess is good for everybody Akers says: “We want to be recognised around the world.

“We want to get rated and have us be part of the world chess federation and get children to travel overseas in a competitive way.”

It may be a small start, but from what this viewer saw it will eventually be check-mate to Akers and his Kukis.    

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