Renowned chess player Grandmaster Hou Yifan brought her rooks and bishops to Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa for the second Grandmaster Corporate Challenge fundraiser in support of the Chess in Schools programme. Dart’s Minds Inspired initiative is a major sponsor of that programme.
Challengers played against the four-time women’s world champion. Yifan played 22 simultaneous matches, with Dart Senior Software Developer Johan Otto the “last man standing,” but Yifan was victorious in each game.
Children also had the opportunity to play against Yifan at the Junior Challenge at the George Town Public Library.
“The Junior Challenge was a wonderful event,” said Yifan. “I saw so much potential in the children. I was especially happy to see so many girls playing.”
Yifan, 24, is the number one ranked woman chess player in the world. A chess prodigy, she is the youngest female player ever to qualify for the title of Grandmaster and the youngest ever to win the Women’s World Chess Championship.
Alanna Warwick-Smith, HR Coordinator for Dart Enterprises, described her game against Yifan at the corporate challenge as a “whirlwind.”
“I learned so much just watching her operate three to five moves ahead. Every time I thought I made a smart move, she redirected me in another direction,” said Warwick-Smith. “I was just trying to survive!”
Chess has many educational benefits including the development of logic, focus and memory, decision-making and creative problem solving, while also teaching respectful competition and responsibility for actions.
“Playing chess has taught me to be proactive and not reactive,” said Warwick-Smith. “It is so easy to get caught up in the panic of ‘right now’ and to try and make a quick fix. Chess teaches you that it’s important to think ahead and analyse how a decision will affect you in three-to-five moves.”
The Cayman Chess Club established the Chess in Schools programme with the goal of teaching children the skills necessary to play the game of strategy. Following the first Grandmaster Corporate Challenge fundraiser in 2017, the club recruited Woman International Master Anzel Laubscher as the National Chess Coach. Laubscher has taught 600 students in the Cayman Islands’ public schools in the first year of the programme.
“It was an honour to welcome Hou to Cayman and witness her in action at the Challenge,” said Dart Education Programmes Manager Glenda McTaggart. “Dart Minds Inspired is proud to support the Cayman Chess Club and its goal of educating the next generation of chess players.”