Battle Of The MASTERS
Harlem Knights vs. Majestic Lions
Saturday, September 23, 2023
BOTM Arbiters; NM Benedict Odafe, Steve Colding and Clotaire Colas
Recently, Run Your Miles Project (RYMP) in collaboration with Aggrey Duncan of Chess On The Move brought together NYC'S chess crown jewels, IM Justus Williams, FM Joshua Colas and NM Jerald Times vs IM Daniel Jere, FM Joel Adebayo, CFM Chikwere Onyekwere in the Empire State Blitz Smackdown, a Battle of the Masters event.
This September, teams representing the Harlem Knights vs the Majestic Lions presented a first of its kind event premier competition for the inner-city chess community. Held at the Harlem YMCA, BOTM was attended by several of the city's upper echelon of chess to include chess expert instructors Adia Onyango, and James Jeffrey, CEO of Kings County Chess; NM Tyrell Harriot of Kings of Queens accompanied by Candidate Master Jessica Hyatt, the highest-rated female African-American chess player, and Chris Johnson of Project Pawn. Serving as arbiters were NM Benedict Odafe, Steve Colding and Clotaire Colas. The BOTM event also attracted the attention of event sponsor, Dr Diaam Shabazz of The Chess Drum and NM Ryan Blackwood ,Director of the Cayman Islands Chess Federation, by any standard a collective powerhouse of an event.
Having the opportunity to a front row seat and witness to the level of talent and skill, one can only wonder, what would this event look like if the resources with the power to propel a community space onto the national stage were directed?? In the last decade there has been a focus on resources being put towards many school chess programs. Its purpose is in introducing inner-city youth to the game of chess and to the benefits derived from the challenge of this mind sport. And while these programs serve to create a lane, it does not address that for too many it's a lane on a road with few outlets and often ends at the doorstep of adulthood. For these youths, the opportunity to participate beyond school age as an adult contender is limited. The usual deterrent is access to resources, competitive training, education and instruction along with visibility.
With The Battle of The MASTERS events, our objective is that in bringing the competition to the talent, it will create greater access for those who otherwise would not. The mission in obtaining this objective is to continue to create high level competitive events. Though this may not solve the problem it's a step in improving the overall numbers. When you consider an actual solution the answer is going to be multi prong. It means creating relationships and building alliances. It will require that we look beyond the board and into the board-room, which is exactly where you'll find us.