Reports by Inthava Vilavane
Laos in learning from Singapore Chess
Recently, from 20-23 March 2014, the delegation of Laos Chess Federation (LCF) with Dr. Khammany INTHIRAT, Laos Member of National Assembly, Deputy Minister of Laos Ministry of Energy & Mines, Vice President of Laos National Olympic Council and President of LCF had come to visit Singapore, attending the 66th National Schools Individual Chess Championship 2014.
This is the second time a chess delegation from Laos had come to learn about Chess in Schools (CIS) from Singapore by official invitation of Mr. Ignatius Leong, FIDE General Secretary, President of both ASEAN Chess Confederation and Singapore Chess Federation.
As a result of first visit back in 2011, LCF had introduced CIS throughout the country, with close cooperation of Laos Ministry of Education & Sports. During this second visit, LCF with Elite Sport Department of Laos, had deepened cooperation, especially now as one of the active members of ASEAN Chess Confederation to promote and support chess for the 28th SEA Games in Singapore in 2015.
Mr. Phommady CHANTHAMAVONG, one member of the LCF delegation, expressed: “Seeing by own eyes once, is even better than hearing from thousands of mouths.” After sharing rich experience from many CIS teachers in Singapore during this big schools chess event, he, as Head of Physical and Art of Education of Savannakhet province, had discussed with LCF to make plans and prepare for the first CIS event in Savannakhet that should take place in March 2015. He said this: “In Savannakhet, this first and pilot CIS competition should get thousands of players like what had been seen in Singapore.”
Savannakhet is one of 18 provinces of Laos, which is located in middle part of the country, with population close to one million (population in Laos, is now close to 7 million). This is accepted as second big province after Vientiane capital. Laos Ministry of Education & Sport and LCF have their hopes for a bright future for CIS in Savannakhet province, where chess had been recently introduced only last year in September 2013.
LCF always receives significant help and many different types of contribution from ASEAN Chess Confederation, Singapore Chess Federation, especially from Ignatius LEONG himself, so our high appreciation to him and to Singapore for helping chess development in Laos for many years.
We also would like to express our sincere thanks to Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia-Pacific for providing opportunity for us to come and learn more from Singapore.
First Move from Paske
After 5 years of hard effort and dedication, finally Laos Ministry of Education and Sports with endorsement of Laos National Olympic Committee, has accepted chess as part of an active participation activity in Education and also Sport in the country, when last February 14-16 chess had been included as part of the 5th National Schools Games.
Laos Chess Federation (LCF) was successful with the conduct of first National Chess in Schools tournament in Pakse, south capital city of Laos. If chess was unknown to Laos people before 2013, now chess has started getting more and more popularity in society, foremost of all among kids in schools. So far, close to 5,000 school chess players had now been in active in both elementary and secondary school.
Soon after, Ministry of Education & Sport, discussed with LCF how to work out to include chess in school curriculum. Of course, for LCF, that means more work to be carried out, especially to give training for school teachers, especially the sports teachers to teach chess in schools.
Recently too, the Department of Elite Sport, Department of Physical & Art of Education, had approved the idea that had suggested by LCF to include chess as one of disciplines in National School of Sport at Ministry of Education & Sports. Laos is ready to move forward to establishing a Chess Academy in the country.
At the moment, out of 18 provinces, chess had been already introduced and is active in 10 provinces from north to south of the country. This is 7 million of population. The secret of such great success of chess in Laos, is right concept of chess development in the country, with close cooperation between Ministry of Education & Sport and LCF based on signed Agreement for CIS according to FIDE guidelines.
Without the contribution since 2010 from Ignatius Leong, FIDE Secretary, we might not be able to reach this initial level of success. Our first national chess in school tournament, had been conducted successfully and 4 Gold medals, 4 Silvers and 4 Bronze medals had been awarded to young school chess players. First move from Pakse had been made!.
Now LCF is having a busy schedule, preparing hard for first national chess open at the 10th National Games this coming December 2014, which is bigger event than what we have done in Paskse. LCF therefore appeals to chess friends and chess organisations worldwide to come and give us a hand for making following successful moves in Laos.