This past Saturday the Orange Walk Chess Extravaganza took place at Peoples Stadium. Over 90 participants showed up for the event that was Orange Walk districts first large event. The morning was consumed with children playing practice games, getting chess instruction from junior coaches, completing puzzles, and creating works of art with clay and face painting. After a delicious lunch, a blitz tournament was conducted in three age groups. Blitz chess is similar to the real game but uses a chess clock to force the tempo of the game and make for faster competition. Age groups were 14 years and older, 11-13 years, and 10 years and under.
Teams travelled from Corozal, Belize, and Cayo districts to showcase some of their best players and show continued support for the emerging Orange Walk chess scene. Despite other districts having more experience playing the game, Orange Walk competitors did a great job of showing they can play with anyone around. Students from Muffles College, Guinea Grass Chess Club, Yo Creek Chess Club were in attendance as well as a few other players in Orange Walk Town.
When the smoke cleared and all was settled, champions remained. Awards were given to the top 3 in each group. In the 14 and older age group, First prize was claimed by Akeem Jenkins from Belmopan, Clifford Coleman from Cayo got second, followed by Steve Flowers from Belize City picked up the third place medal. The 11-13 age group was won by Eliazar Garrido from Guinea Grass Village. Irene Perez from Corozal district and Vierra Bustillos from Guinea Grass Village took home second and third place, respectfully. Luis Zavala from Yo Creek Village was crowned champion of the 10 and under age group. Second and third went to Keirerre Loria from Corozal and Jerardo Gonzales, respectively.
Other awards were given out for drawings, clay sculptures, and the oldest and youngest players. Prizes for the drawing competition went to Ana Anderson, Omar Pulido, and Lupita Villanueva. Clay sculpture prizes went to Miguel Rosado, Kareem Jenkins, and Amwar Tamay. The oldest player there was Phillip Aldana (47) from Corozal town, while the youngest player was Zhair Lizama (6) from Belize City.
A big special thanks goes out to all the local sponsors in Orange Walk Town who supported Orange Walk Chess helping to make the event a reality. It is our hope that chess in the Orange Walk District will only continue to grow through community support.
The event was made possible thanks to the support of the Belize National Youth Chess Foundation for supplying clocks, boards, and prizes. Peace Corps Volunteers from around the country helped to run tables and make the event a success.