The Chicago Chess Foundation (CCF) and two partner organizations in Ghana have launched the Ghana-Chicago Chess Exchange, an online chess league uniting elementary and High school students on two continents for friendly competition and cross-cultural fellowship.
An inaugural cross-Atlantic competition hosted 30 Chicago students and 30 students attending various schools in Ghana.
The five-round tournament gave students an opportunity to compete over the LiChess platform in a zoom-facilitated breakout sessions.
“Our goal as an organization is to offer children free opportunities to play chess and learn the important lessons this game teaches, including; critical thinking, creativity and social-emotional development,” according to CCF Executive Director, Mr Lee Lazar.
He said the exchange initiative in Ghana would broaden goals and allow Chicago girls and boys a chance to form friendships with children in Ghana through a common affection for a game appreciated around the world for 1500 years.
CCF’s partners in the cross-Atlantic exchange included; Brothers and Sisters in Christ Serving International (BASICS), a community-based programme in Ghana that promotes literacy, economic empowerment, public health and social inclusion.
He added that students from the Ghana International School (GIS), with 1400 students from more than 50 countries, also participated in the Ghana-Chicago Chess Exchange.
Madam Patricia Wilkins, Executive Director of BASICS said Chess was not just a game, but a language.
“Our partnership demonstrates the power chess has to break down the barriers of age, race, culture and gender to forge harmony and respect across the globe.”
The GIS Chess Coach and student Counselor, Mr Lennard Lartey said though students may be separated due to geography and the global pandemic, the chess programme and a series of new technologies can nurture in-person learning, respect and understanding.
Mr Matthew Kearney, CCF’s Director of Programming, said CCF had to adapt to an online competitive model during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the students appreciated the programme adding, ” Being able to play with people from a different culture and country is amazing”.