Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Karpov opens chess school in Morocco

Walking through the Fez Medina it is common to see men of all ages playing a variety of board games. Chess players are relatively rare, but they can be seen. Those who play chess will sometimes do so in conditions that would bemuse a western player. Today a View from Fez writer spotted a couple of young men standing in a doorway on a busy street, the chess board balanced on their hands for lack of a table.

Yet despite it being a rarity, those who play in chess clubs in Rabat, Tetouan, Fes and Casablanca have included many champions. In Rabat the Fath club is renowned for the skill of its members. These include the amazing Leyla Elamri who is currently the all Moroccan champion in all categories for women. She has won every title since she was 12 years of age. Last year, as a seventeen year old, she even managed to draw with the Russian grand master Anatoly Karpov in a speed game when he faced many players at the same time.

Now the chess players of Morocco are set to get a fantastic boost as Karpov has agreed to a partnership with the Fath club and set up a chess school in Rabat.

According to a Reuter's report, this will be the first Anatoly Karpov Chess School in Africa. Karpov, one of the living legends of chess, came to Morocco and supervised a three day training course for 24 young Moroccans. At the end of this course, he presented the winners with certificates and trophies.

Anatoly Karpov, a living legend of chess, was world champion between 1975 and 1984. Karpov has 17 chess schools outside Russia, mainly in Europe and the United States. The only Arab country, apart from Morocco to have a similar school, is Syria where Karpov is proud to have an institution bearing his name in the Damascus Sports Palace. When asked by Reuters why he chose Morocco for his first school in Africa, Anatoly Karpov said: "This is the third time I am in Morocco. The last time I was here was in December last year. We discussed then how we could help young Moroccans in Rabat-Sale to develop their chess and how we could help them".

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