GUAM — In March and April 2017, the Kasparov Chess Foundation Asian-Pacific celebrated its 15 year anniversary by traveling to four different Asian countries to promote chess as an educational tool for children. March 22 marked the start of the tour in Guam. The tour continued through the Philippines, Malaysia and Myanmar, ultimately ending the tour April 6.
The foundation attracted 700 chess enthusiasts to the Young Talents Rapid Age Groups Chess Tournament in the Philippines and hosted 80 teachers and state representatives of the Ministry of Education to a seminar in Malaysia. Michael Khodorkovsky, president of Kasparov Chess Foundation, was the seminar’s keynote speaker.
The Kasparov Chess Foundation Asian-Pacific was founded by World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov November 16, 2003, in Singapore. According to the Kasparov Chess Foundation’s mission statement, the nonprofit aims to “promote the study of chess as a cognitive learning tool in curricular classes and after-school programs for elementary, middle and high schools, both in the public and private school sector” while also organizing regional, national and worldwide chess tournaments.
Gary Kasparov became the youngest World Chess Champion at the age of 22 in 1985. Kasparov would go on to defend his title for five consecutive years and helped bring artificial intelligence into the mainstream of chess during his famous battles against the IBM supercomputer “Deep Blue” in 1996.
Kasparov decided to give back after his prestigious chess career by founding the Kasparov Chess Foundation with the goal of spreading education of chess to children to encourage creativity and self-discipline.
Teaching chess is a passion Kasparov exhibits in a statement on the Kasparov Chess Foundation website. “In an age when schools are facing significant budgetary restraints, there is a greater need than ever to make chess available to as many students as possible. We’ve assembled the very best in chess education to develop a complete chess curriculum – K through 12.” This dedication to expanding chess education has made the Kasparov Chess Foundation quite successful.
The Kasparov Chess Foundation is not exclusive to Asia-Pacific countries. The Kasparov Chess Foundation has made chess education a worldwide goal. With the help of the Kasparov Chess Foundation, the 2017 Greater New York Championship attracted 1,500 K-12 chess players to compete at the Brooklyn Marriot, overturning the previous attendance record. The Kasparov Chess Foundation also teamed up with the Paul Allen Foundation to organize an 18-month tour of Africa to provide a structured training system in countries such as Botswana, Zambia and Kenya in the hope of providing chess education to 1,500 children.
That said, some of the Kasparov Chess Foundation’s most promising work has taken place in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2016, the Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia-Pacific helped support the 17th ASEAN+ Age-Group Championship, hosting more than 300 participants from 14 countries. The efforts put forth by the Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia-Pacific helped the ASEAN+ Age-Group boast its fourth largest turnout in the history of the event.
Kasparov himself has dedicated his time to visiting various countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Thailand, where Kasparov met with Thailand’s Prime Minister and president of the Thailand Chess Federation Kittiratt Na-Ranong. Upon his arrival in 2013, Kasparov and Kittiratt discussed their views on chess in Thailand, along with the importance chess could play in education and social networking.
The Kasparov Chess Foundation Asain-Pacific continues to make innovations in bringing chess education to Asia.
– Patrick Greeley