Renowned chess player Grandmaster Hou Yifan brought her rooks and bishops to the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa for the second Grandmaster Corporate Challenge fundraiser in support of the Chess in Schools programme.

Challengers representing Dart, Ogier, BDO and others were among those who played against the four-times Women’s World champion. Children also had the opportunity to play against Hou at the Junior Challenge at the George Town Public Library.

“The Junior Challenge was a wonderful event – I saw so much potential in the children,” says Hou.

“I was especially happy to see so many girls playing”.

Hou, 24, is the number one ranked woman chess player in the world. A chess prodigy, she is the youngest female player ever to qualify for the title of Grandmaster and the youngest ever to win the Women's World Chess Championship.

Alanna Warwick-Smith, HR Coordinator for Dart Enterprises and a former Minds Inspired Work-X participant, described her game against the Grandmaster at the corporate challenge as a “whirlwind”.

“I learned so much just watching her operate three-to-five moves ahead. Every time I thought I made a smart move, she redirected me in another direction,” says Warwick-Smith.

“She also wasn’t much older than I was so we laughed every time I played…I was just trying to survive!”.

Chess has many educational benefits including the development of logic, focus and memory, decision making and creative problem solving, while also teaching respectful competition and responsibility for actions and results.

“Playing chess has taught me to be proactive and not reactive,” says Warwick-Smith.

“It is so easy to get caught up in the panic of ‘right now’ and to try and make a quick fix. Chess teaches you that it’s important to think ahead, and analyse how a decision will affect you in three-to-five moves.”

The Cayman Chess Club established a Chess in Schools programme with the goal of educating children to learn the skills necessary to play the game of strategy. Following the first Grandmaster Corporate Challenge fundraiser in 2017, the club recruited Women International Master Anzel Laubscher as the National Chess Coach. Laubscher has taught 600 students in the Cayman Islands’ public schools in the first year of the programme

“It was an honour to welcome Yifan to Cayman and witness her in action at the Challenge. Dart Minds Inspired is proud to support the Cayman Chess Club and its goal of educating the next generation of chess players,” says Glenda McTaggart, Dart Education Programmes Manager.

For more information on the Chess in Schools programme, visit the Cayman Chess Club.