A Chess Legend´s Legacy
By Adrián Mengana
Based in the Cuban capital, the Latin American Higher Institute of Chess (LHIC) offers national and international chess staunch support for the development and promotion of all aspects of the game. Established on 20 April 1992 in remembrance and in honour of Jose Raúl Capablanca, the Cuban-born World Chess Champion (1921 to 1927) and to mark the significance of the so-called immortal game in Cuba, the LHIC has a proud track record in training players and researching and promoting the game both at home and abroad.
In an interview with Cubaplus, Danilo Buela, the LIHC´s deputy director of instruction, said that a combination of a rich chess tradition and the presence of the necessary infrastructure means that Cuba is very well positioned to implement chess related projects.
Buela commented that the intellectual, cultural and ethical values inherent to the game have encouraged thousands of Cubans of all ages to play it and he made particular reference to the work undertaken since 1959 to bring chess to all corners of the country.
He also spoke of the work done at the LHIC´s School of Talented Children to holistically integrate intellectual development with a greater and faster development of sports skills from an early age.
Buela was referring to the some 100 children who by studying and practicing chess not only learn the theoretical elements of the game but also develop values such as willingness, intelligence, perseverance and courage, all of which reinforce their patterns of behaviour and respect for social norms and rules of conduct. Also a FIDE Master, Buela recalled the training and support offered to Cuba´s leading chess players and to young talented players from the Americas, Europe and Africa.
Amongst those supported are Costa Rican-born Alejandro Ramírez from the United States, Spaniard Francisco “Paco” Vallejo, Brazilian Rafael Leitao, Venezuelan Eduardo Iturrizaga, Ecuadorean Carlos Matamoros and Peruvians Julio Granda, Deysi and Jorge Cori.
Commenting on the LHIC´s priorities, Buelo described the organization´s endeavours to integrate chess into Cuba´s educational system as very important. Under a national program launched in 1989, chess is now a basic subject at schools. This has been possible due to the cooperation of more than 400 trainers in all categories who maintain contact with the IHIC through a program of scientific and teaching events.
He also highlighted on the institute´s broadcasting of a TV program devoted to chess, an initiative that has ensured broader diffusion and support for chess.
The first TV course on chess was aired on February 8, 2003 and a further 16 have followed to date, 12 of which are supported by printed tabloids. These have enabled children and teenagers to continue their learning process and compensate for the lack of specialized literature on the game.