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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Oman Chess Fans Hoping to Host Asian Schools Championship in Muscat

Chess Blog for Daily Chess News and Trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2014

Hello everyone,

Muscat: The International Chess Academy (ICA), the only mind sport training centre in Oman affiliated to the International Chess Federation (FIDE), has plans to host the Asian School Chess Championship in Muscat. 

Speaking to Times of Oman, Ismael Karim, an International Master who runs ICA in Oman, said that the objective of hosting the championship is to promote the game in schools in Oman.

"We are having some great ideas that will be introduced in the coming months. The most important plan is to organise an Asian School Chess Championship for Oman. We are still at the planning stage and if everything works out, then we can have it soon," said Karim.

According to Karim, ICA will get the support of the Asian Chess Federation to conduct its most popular tournament's edition in Muscat.

"If everything goes well then we will soon come out with the announcement and conduct qualifiers in all the schools," he said.

Karim, who started playing chess from the age of nine, said the game should be introduced in the curriculum of all schools.

"Chess was part of the school curriculum when I was a student. Most countries do follow that. It will be a big movement if that is done in all the schools here. Chess should be a teaching tool in all the schools here," he said.

The ICA, which is a first-of-its-kind body in Oman, caters to people of all nationalities who are interested in learning the game. Started in Jibroo in January this year, ICA currently has 25 students from different countries.

"This is the best place to come and take lessons on chess. It is open to everyone. Currently, we have 25 students and they are going through a three-month course," he said. After completion of the course, the students will be given a certificate by the FIDE.

"You know, what I have observed is that chess is played here mostly in the open, at coffee shops and malls. There is no special centre for teaching or playing the game. I think the ICA is the best option for chess lovers," he said.

Karim, a well-travelled chess master, represented Morocco in the World Youth Championship twice — in 2002 and 2003. He also took part in the Chess Olympiads in Spain in 2004, and two years later, participated in the same event in Italy. "Compared to other sports, chess is not an expensive game. You just need a chess board to play and it can be played anywhere. By having the Oman Chess Committee, I think the sport will move in the right direction," Karim added.

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