Chess training in the Dominican Republic

In general terms, players minimize the importance of adequate and timely preparation and, on the other hand, the authorities of the game of science do not approach it as a necessary investment for the qualitative technical development of chess players.

On occasions, federation officials have been sent as coaches to a World Olympiad, national teams compete without previous training and young talents participate in an international tournament without the proper technical support, among other cases that show the lack of an adequate training culture among players and federation officials on duty.

However, in the last thirty years there have been attempts to develop training plans and it must be recognized that Engineer Rafael Damirón has been a standard bearer in this sense. To this effect, in 1988 the Cuban IM José L. Vilela spent a few weeks in these functions; later in 1991 IM Adelquis Remón shared his knowledge with a good group of players, but unfortunately died along with some of his pupils in the plane crash in Puerto Plata. Both trainers left a pleasant impression among Dominican chess players who understood the importance of technical preparation to advance in chess.

In October 1994, the engineer Elizabeth Hazim, who had been a student of Adelquis and knew the importance of training, when she became president of the Dominican Chess Federation (FDA) implemented with relative success a plan with the participation of masters Norbert Luecke, Gustavo Hernandez and Nelson Pinal. On that occasion young people and adults received classes for a few months. I personally was involved in that project until my return to Cuba in February 1995. Later, between September 1995 and May 1996, we were able to re-launch the project with training sessions from Monday to Friday where I gave simultaneous timed lessons on Wednesdays.

With the arrival of trainers through agreements between the Dominican Republic and Cuba, three masters from the island of Capablanca were present for several years in the country organizing training plans. However, it was not possible to make good use of their stay, although IM Humberto Pecorelli was able to do some meritorious work training and accompanying the men’s teams to the World Olympics in Istanbul 2012 and Tromso 2014.

The lack of an adequate logistical base, concrete plans from the FDA and the players’ lack of interest in training seriously and responsibly, ruined what could have been a quality training during the years that the three masters were present.

Another attempt, with relative success, was the training of the women’s Olympic team during the months leading up to the World Olympiad in Tromso 2014. In that task, which was entrusted to me by the then recently inaugurated president of the Federation, Mr. Willy Gonzalez, we managed to organize training sessions and assume the role of coach of the women’s team in the important world event from where we returned with two new FIDE Masters for the country, Wilsaida Diaz and Carol Santos Almonte, the last Dominican players to have conquered that title since then. After the return from the Olympiad, the training was not followed up, the work done was ignored and women’s chess regressed greatly to the point that in the following Olympiad the country was in 110th place and lost in the last round to the Botswana team.

Other attempts to bring knowledge to the players were made at the Ramon Mateo Club, where national and international players were trained; also through the LICHESS Foundation we managed to conduct more than 100 sessions of classes in the capital and in the interior of the country between the years 2013 and 2015.

Between April 2016 and January 2020 under the direction and sponsorship of engineer Damirón we were able to implement the project Ajedrez Joven R. D., undoubtedly the most successful training program of the Dominican game of science and where 310 sessions of classes were given to a group of selected young people, who under the slogan Learning for real, a teaching plan designed Pinal Borges was structured. From that project, emerged IM Josué Araujo, the 2019 national runner-up Franchessca Ramírez with 14 years and the national youth champion Miguel Hernández Lora, among other magnificent results.

At present, the shortage of level coaches, the apathy of the players to attend training regularly and the little motivation and initiatives of the FDA to implement preparation plans, especially for youth and women’s chess, where the country is in its infancy, has an impact on international performances and the poor level of quality that we show in a general sense.

On the other hand, it is a disadvantage the criterion that any player can be a trainer, ignoring the concepts of the Soviet school of chess pointed out in the previous Sunday’s work (The importance of training) that is why chess players are appointed without the slightest idea of the true function of a trainer, assuming something of the lyrics of the famous tango Cambalache: that everything is equal, nothing is better. A donkey is the same as a great teacher.

A simple example of the need for the preparation of chess players is demonstrated at present, by checking that the results of the members of Ajedrez Joven R. D. mentioned above, have been declining in the absence of the systematic training they received until the end of 2019.

Only with the change of mentality of the players and directors of the FDA, it will be possible to carry out training plans that achieve tangible results, especially in the young talents, before the time is too late as has happened for years among chess players with great prospects who did not reach where they were potentially estimated.

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