New organisation to promote chess

A new organisation to promote Chess in Sri Lanka was inaugurated recently, namely, the "Chess Association of Sri Lanka" (CASL). The Association has the objective to promote the game comprehensively.

Dr R.D Gunaratne, Secretary of the CASL, said: "The new club was founded by a group of present and former players representing several chess clubs in Colombo as well as the Central Province Chess Association in Kandy. The Colombo clubs are Mt. Lavinia Chess Club, Paul Morphy Chess Club and the Old Royalists’ Chess Club.

He said: "Chess has become a popular game among school children in Sri Lanka and is now played in nearly every part of the country. That being so, the standard of play at the top has stagnated or even declined compared with those of other countries. In the 1980s Sri Lanka produced two chess players who achieved the international rank of FIDE Master. During the last 15 years, we have not produced of such calibre. The main reason is the lack of top level coaches. This is an area we must specifically focus on.

Dr Gunaratne, who was the former Chess Federation Secretary also added: " We are looking for sponsors to promote this sport and I am sure we can do so successfully. The organisers and office bearers of CASL are an excellent mix of former players with administrative experience and younger players, who are actively involved in the local scene as players, coaches, arbiters and organisers .

Former National Champion Christopher Parakrama (1973) is the President of CASL and he is also a Director of the Bartleet Group. Harilal Athurupana, who was continuously Chess National champion between 1984 to 1992, was awarded FIDE Master in 1987, is the Vice President of CASL, while former National Champion Muditha Hettigama (1994) is the Treasurer of CASL.

The founders of CASL believe that a great deal remains to be done to develop the sport in Sri Lanka in terms of improving the level of play and the standard of coaching of young players. In addition, the lack of a national rating system for the players. CASL is expected to re-introduce a new rating system. This rating system is important for the players to know how they rate.

Malinda Seneviratne, spokesman for CASL said, the new body was not formed as an alternative to the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka, which is the main body of the sport. He also added: " The CASL didn’t intend to gain affiliation to the main unit. We are not against anybody, but we are an independent body dedicated to uplift the sport.

Among the CASL planned activities during the coming year, it intends to organise tournaments, conduct coaching events and institute a universal rating scheme for the local players. (DR)


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