Sunday, November 11, 2007
In yesterday’s mail I received a handwritten letter from Gary Robson, Ray’s dad. It was a thank you for a cash gift Goddesschess recently made to help with costs for the World Youth Chess Championships in Turkey and also a progress report, which was very kind of Mr. Robson. I wrote about Ray’s upcoming trip to Turkey here. As you know by now, Ray (USA 2396) (now 13 years old) recently scored his first IM norm!!! at the 6th North American FIDE Invitational, October 28 – November 3, 2007 (put together by the North American Chess Association), finishing in first place with 7.0/9. Way to go, Ray. In Turkey he will be up against the toughest competition in the world, so it will be a true test of Ray’s skill and nerves. I wish there was some kind of national program that would provide financial assistance to our promising chessplayers. I’m a big fan of figure skating – yes, I know darlings, don’t even go there, lol! – and the national and international figure skating associations put through rule changes back in the early 90’s that made it possible for amateur skaters to earn money by participating in touring ice shows and television specials while still retaining their "Olympic" eligibility. Wouldn’t it be possible to do something similar for our chessplayers? Couldn’t someone with the right marketing know-how be able to organize a series of blitz chess events and simuls in say, the top 10 cities in the USA, in which our most promising young chessplayers could participate, all expenses paid, and receive a generous stipend through public and private sponsorship opportunities? I’m no marketing expert – but this is something the USCF should be looking at. One of their organizational objectives is to promote chess in the United States. What better way to promote the game than to put our young stars out there in public, meeting their fans and chess afficianados, giving them opportunities to earn money to help defray training costs and tournament costs (travel, hotel, meals). I mean, darlings, if Dancing with the Stars can organize and sell-out tours of BALLROOM DANCING exhibitions, it cannot be so far-fetched to think that chess can do the same! Well, perhaps someday we will have something organized along these lines for our chessplayers. If you would like to follow Ray’s progress (and, indeed, the progress of your favorite young players from every country participating) at the World Youth Championships (November 17 – 29, 2007), the official website is here, but you may have better luck finding current results and news at Susan Polgar’s chess blog.