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Gambia’s Independence Day 2014!

From the very beginning of his campaign for FIDE president, Garry Kasparov talked about promoting chess, not just running for office. The impact of his many visits around the world (now over 20 countries!) has been tremendous, making front-page news on three continents and putting the game of chess in the spotlight.

An even better result came in Gambia, where the Kasparov Chess Foundation sponsored an impressive chess championship! Mr. Larbi Houari was on the scene for us and Alieu M Sallah, Secretary General of the Gambian Chess Federation, prepared this excellent report. Africa Rising!!







Report by Alieu M Sallah, Secretary General of the Gambian Chess Federation

In January 2014, the Senegalese chess federation invited the Gambia chess federation to a meeting with Garry Kasparov and Kasparov Chess Foundation in Dakar, Senegal from the 26th to the 28th.


Garry Kasparov, Antouman Njie and Larbi Houari in Dakar – 2014, January 28th

At that meeting Gambia Chess Federation (GCF) President Antouman Njie informed Mr. Garry Kasparov of GCF intention to organise our national chess championship which was slated to take place from the 21st to the 23rd February 2014 in honour of The Gambia 49th Independence Anniversary Celebration.

Instead Garry Kasparov proposed to him to make the tournament an International event where countries within the sub region can participate and he Garry Kasparov will sponsor it. Mr, Njie without hesitation agreed with him and was linked with Mr. Larbi Houari.


Garry Kasparov, President Boubakar Diallo (Senegal) and President Antouman NJIE on the way to Goree Island – six weeks ago

Mr. Larbi arrived in the Gambia on the 27rh February received by GCF President Antouman, and stayed at the tournament venue Badala Park Hotel. The same day around 6.00pm Mr. Larbi and GCF Committee members had a planning meeting.


Badala Park Hotel – The Gambia


Meeting of the Gambia Chess Federation Board


Registration of players with computerised swiss system


Preparation of the tournament

Opening Ceremony
On Friday 28th February 2014,
Speech by the GCF President.
Larbi Houari remarks.


Opening ceremony – Mr. Titawo Mendy, Executive Director of National Sports Council speech

Titawo Mendy, Opening Remarks the Executive Director of National Sports Council thanked the Kasparov Chess Foundation (Africa) for sponsoring the tournament, attractive prizes and advised chess players to take the game very seriously because is their sport choice. He challenges the GCF to involve more youths. Finally thanked Larbi for his courage to come to the Gambia and declared the tournament open.


Larbi Houari answering questions to the national media of The Gambia.

A 24 players SWISS System tournament was held this was shortened to 5 rounds due to difficulties we faced on the first day and has coincided with other National event. The rate of play was all the moves in 50 minutes; add on 30 seconds per move of 5 rounds in 3 days.

The President Gambia National Olympic Committee, Alhagi Momodou M Dibba on Saturday 1st March 2014 pays a visit at the tournament venue and had a fruitful discussion with Larbi and GCF Committee Members. He called the Minister of Education for a meeting with KCF just after the tournament!


President Antouman NJIE following the games


Alhagi Momodou M Dibba, the President Gambia National Olympic Committee (center) with Larbi Houari and Antouman Njie


The fight is on!

The three days chess tournament was a renowned success as the GCF objectives was geared towards establishing long terms relationship between the Kasparov Chess Foundation and Gambia Chess Federation.


Ebrima Bah, winner of the tournament, receiving 600$ prize!

Larbi Houari said that he was very happy to be here, among you, proud to see so much enthusiasm. The tournament came to close as scheduled, and during the closing ceremony, the GCF,  had among its invited guests Mr. Osseh Sock (one time a chess player but due to his senior managerial responsibilities ) .  Since the advent of the Gambia Chess Federation, this is the very first time in history of Chess in the Gambia for Chess players to win such prizes.


Closing ceremony. President Antouman Njie renews the promise of the board to support Garry Kasparov for the next FIDE elections.


On Monday 4th we had an appointment with the Minister of Basic and Secondary School, Hon. Fatou Lamin Faye, unfortunately she was busy on other official errants but asked us to meet his Permanent Secretary Baboucarr Boye. 


Permanent Secretary Baboucarr Boye, Mr. Njie, M. Aw (Senegal) and Larbi Houari.


Larbi Houari discussing the benefits of Chess in School and the Kasparov Chess Foundation’s chess integration process

The meeting was attended by the Desk Officer for School Sport Musa Menday and his assistant Mr. Bah.

We were warmly received.  The main subject of the discussion was Chess in School Program and the benefits of chess as an educational tool, Mr. Baboucarr Boye being a mathematician feel touch by the words of Larbi that chess can improved student in their mathematics and further told him their are scientific proof.

The Permanent Secretary promised to support GCF as he had done before in other sports  In fact he assured us that he start a test in selected schools if the program starts and see the different. Larbi promised to provide him with copies of research done.

He further assured us that immediately the chess material arrived. next summer he personally with his technical team will select schools pilot project in the Gambia.

He thank Larbi and the Kasparov Chess Foundation for choosing Gambia.

Through Musa Mendy we received feedback from the Minister herself, according to him she appreciate the initiative and looking forward for the implementation process in September-October of this year.


Everybody happy after this very constructive meeting!


  • The Gambia Chess National Championship is slated between the last week of March and first week of April 2014.
  • Established Kasparov Chess Foundation in the Gambia
  • A dialogue should be opened with Kasparov Chess Foundation Chess in Schools .


  • Organise and held technical seminars for national players before August 2014 either in the Gambia or overseas.
  • Proceed to an exchange of information and programs between sister federation
  • To equip chess materials to the Gambian Chess Federation members.
  • Renovate and equip the office space.


  • Ability to participate in all International Chess Competitions
  • Setting up Regional Chess Association
  • Acquired land measuring 50×50 sq meters and to build an office complex.

“Still a lot to do here, but as long as you have such an energy and faith, we’ll help you for a real independence day of your chess model (…)” Larbi visiting possible sites for a new office for the Gambian Chess Federation.

The Gambia Chess Federation is extremely proud in achieving some of its key objectives highlighted herein, which are very critical in our quest to rejuvenate and raise the profile of chess in the smiling coast of Africa ‘GAMBIA’.

The Gambia Chess Federation wishes to register our profound gratitude to the Kasparov Chess Foundation for single-handedly sponsoring this historic chess tournament. It is the first of its kind in the Gambia.