Urban vs rural ... even in chess

After 12 draws in classical games, Norwegian Magnus beat American Fabiano Caruana 3-0 in the rapid match in London two days ago (29/11/18) retaining his world chess champion title.

This year’s Moselle (France) Regional Chess Championship was held in Bliesbruck from November 1 to 4. Unexpectedly and unfortunately, only a quarter of the usual 80 chess enthusiasts turned up. I felt sorry for the organisers who evidently spent enormous time and resources to make it happen successfully. The main reason I heard was: Bliesbruck is out-of-the-way place. At least one person phoned and asked for the number of registered participants and when he found out that there were only 20, he said “There aren’t many, so I’m not going there”. If everyone had that mentality, there would not have been any tournament.

The newly renovated venue was spacious and well lit, has all the necessary amenities, and is situated in a green surrounding with ample playing fields for the children (e.g. football, basketball and tennis). The playing equipment and materials were comfortable, and everyone was made welcome. It’s an ideal place and condition for a chess competition. But, where were the other players?

Bliesbruck is a small French village located in the north-east of France, in the district of Sarreguemines which has a population of slightly over a thousand. For me, it was an opportunity to be away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

There are more than 20 chess clubs in Moselle; if each club had sent at least 2 players, the organisers would not have been disappointed.

Nevertheless, it’s a memorable tournament because everyone was very friendly, and no one looked stressed and unhappy. The referee was always in a good mood mingling with the players before and after the games. The strong players, including last and this year’s champion Mr Stephane Vignale, were accessible to everyone and generous with their smiles and advice.

The mayor of Bliesbruck came thrice during the tournament. Thus, it was not surprising that his speech sounded sincere. He spoke about his admiration for chess and the people who can play chess, including his childhood friend and family members.

The Sarreguemine Chess Club President, Mrs Marie-Christine Schumucker, and her devoted friends prepared awesome home-made cakes and meals. The cocktail (fruit juice, wine, champagne, sandwiches, cold meat, etc.) after the ceremony was well presented and more than adequate.

There was a community atmosphere, generosity of spirit and friendship during the 4-day tournament.

Chess is the best sport to exercise our brain. Playing chess might not tone our muscles but has a lifelong mental health benefits. Relevant officials, clubs and their members, schools and community organisations should ensure that the playing of chess thrives not only in urban centres but in towns and villages. (from Being Intelligent Gifted - www.beingintelligentgifted.com)

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