Seventeen (17) year old Rohan Karamchandani claimed victory on the 16th of June, 2018, at the Ghana National Youth Chess Championships held at the DPS International School in Tema, Ghana.
The annual competition, which is put together by the Ghana Chess Association (GCA), saw children of all ages compete in several categories (i.e. U-10, U-12, U-14, U-16 and U-18), with Rohan claiming first place in the main U-18 category.
The Ghana International School (GIS) student, who came into the championship as favorite, having previously won every category of the competition over the years, finished with four (4) out of a possible five (5) points to secure the gold medal by head-to-head confrontation.
Speaking after his victory, Mr. Karamchandani revealed his delight in claiming gold at the event, saying: “It was really fun playing the tournament today, especially the last game which was quite a challenge. It was a really good match, I enjoyed this tournament a lot and I was trying my best to win every game”. He went on to say: “I anticipate it would be easy, but then, every year there is always one or two more people who make it a challenge and make it interesting, like this time there were new people who I had not met before and it was an interesting challenge to play them.”
Following his victory at the National Youth Chess Championships, Mr. Karamchandani has turned his attention towards the GCA’s main showpiece in “The President’s Cup”, which is slated for the 30th of June, 2018. “Next, I am looking forward to playing in the President’s Cup that is coming up, and trying to get the best junior award there. That is my aim”, he said.
The National Youth Championships also had a few surprises as children from a Chorkor-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Brothers and Sisters in Christ Serving (BASICS) International impressed, picking up three (3) medals (1 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze) in their first ever appearance in the competition.
BASIC International was founded back in 2000 in Chorkor, a small fishing community in Accra with a single mission of ending the cycles of poverty and illiteracy. They do this through educational and social interventions, one of which is the BASICS International Chess Club, also known as ‘Kings of Chorkor’, which trains unprivileged children in the sports of chess.
Coach of Kings of Chorkor Wilson Onuoha gave more information on the club, saying : “Kings of Chorkor are basically kids from Chorkor, a fishing community towards Korle-Bu, Korle-Gonno and it has just been a few months that we started the NGO, that I thought it was going to be a great idea to introduce them to the wonderful game (chess), and see how they will learn”. Mr. Onuoha also revealed that he was impressed with the kids’ performance at the event, saying: “To my surprise they just blew me away today, they played with some of the best kids from top schools here in Ghana and we have a trophy, the U-14 champion is now from Chorkor”.
Thirteen (13) year old John Allotey, is one of the children from BASICS International who impressed at the tournament, was undefeated, and he claimed gold in the U-14 category of the event. He spoke after his victory saying: “In the first place I did not really like chess, but as I kept playing and losing, my coach told me not to fear defeat, but to always give my best”, he continued: “I heard there was a competition in Tema, so I was very happy and when I first got here I was afraid because there were a lot of foreigners and I thought they were better than me, but as we played I realized I was a lot better than them and by God’s grace I got this medal.”
Master Allotey revealed he plans to continue training in the sport, to become a much better player, “I see that I have to really improve my chess, because you do not know when chances will come, maybe they can call us to a place where the people are better than us. So we need to improve our chess.”
President of the Ghana Chess Association Philip Ameku was also impressed by the Kings of Chorkor, saying: “The tournament was good, we had a few surprises here and there, but all in all, all those who won deserved it, and those who did not win, it means that they should sit up because we have some new group of players from Chorkor, who were just shocking everybody, this is their first competition and one of them even won a gold medal”. He continued: “So you can see that it is a new wave coming up, because chess has been dominated by the privileged in society so it is very good to see these kids coming up from every corner of the country”.
Below is the list of winners at the event: