Merriman’s Mall Chess Club on the rise

By Jemima Holmes
The Merriman Mall in Georgetown is home to many activities, the most popular of which is vending. However, in the hustle and bustle of business, a quiet section of the infamous Mall is home to the Merriman’s Mall Chess Club.

Devon Jacobs is at his happiest when playing chess

Tucked neatly between Church and North Roads, the open air venue not only allows for persons to stop and look on, but in some instances join in on a game of chess. Unlike his brother, Steven Jacobs with his choice of sports being cricket, Devon Jacobs has opted for a much quieter, more focused game.
Jacobs has been a stalwart at the Merriman’s Mall Chess Club for over a decade, and shared a little about the club with Guyana Times Sport.
“We’re here playing blitz chess and we normally gather every day on a recreational basis. We’re now trying to organise our Chess Club ‘cause we’ve been gathering here for more than a decade. So, basically our participants and affiliates are very acquainted players and they’re great players, who in time I’d love to see in more activities of such.”

Many youngsters often learn to play chess at the Merriman’s Mall Chess Club (Jemima Holmes Photos)

While noting that the Club sees close to 20 players testing their skills on a day-to-day basis, one of the Club’s greatest achievements to date is introducing to the game a young Anthony Drayton, who is now Guyana’s highest-ranked chess player, a FIDE master with a 2030 rating. Citing this, Jacobs explained the vision for the Club going forward.
“It would be a cohesion of the participants over a period of time through fundraising and other events such as this chess tournament; we look to develop slow but gradually since the event is new to our venue,” he explained.
The first step in exercising their mandate will be the Merriman’s Mall Chess Classic that will be hosted this weekend, March 9 and 10. The tournament is being hosted in honour of Calvin Giddings and Uncle Eddie who were avid players at Merriman’s Mall, but have since passed on. Chess organiser and Coach Wendell Meusa disclosed the exciting format that the competition will take on.
“We’re going to be having a grand prix style, which means on both days we’re going to be having different sections of chess. We’re going to be playing blitz, rapid, and it’s going to be an overall points system. We’re looking to make it nine rounds and the time control is going to vary from half an hour to five minutes,” he said.
Additionally, the Club will host a takeaway lunch on Sunday as a fundraising activity.
An excited Meusa is optimistic about the prospects of the up and coming Merriman’s Mall Chess Club, stating, “We’re actually trying to bring chess to life out here.”