Chess and The Nature of Life


Winners in the Caribbean Chess Carnival show their trophies and prizes. Back row from left are media personality and master of ceremonies Errol Fabien, Samantha Seecharan and champion Vishnu Singh. At right is Edison Raphael.

A few years ago, ex-world champion Garry Kasparov wrote a fascinating book entitled 'How Life Imitates Chess.'

When she addressed youngsters engaged in the Caribbean Chess Carnival in Port-of-Spain last week, business executive Gillian Benjamin added an insightful "chapter" to Kasparov's thesis, although she may not have read or even heard about the former champion's thought-provoking tome.


Gillian Benjamin, Strategic Marketing and Sales Manager of First Citizens Asset Management Limited addressing participants at the Caribbean Chess Carnival at the National Academy for the Performing Arts.

Benjamin, Strategic Marketing and Sales Manager of First Citizens Asset Management Ltd, advised the 75 participating youngsters to "soak it all in, keeping in mind the values and principles that chess teaches." Every Chess Carnival, she noted, brings its share of surprises, lessons learnt, opportunities and disappointments.

"I've seen chess players sit there calmly thinking about whether their next move is the right one or whether there are better moves to be made. Isn't that a real parallel to the nature of life, making the best choice in executing the next move...

"Like chess, making an investment involves the ability to decide among investment opportunities. Our team at First Citizens Asset Management continually look at the whole board or, in our case, the investment landscape. We carefully assess the economic circumstances, stability of return, risk and correlation with the rest of the investments within the portfolio.

"Yes, all these factors must be taken into consideration when deciding on an investment move, as decisions made with too narrow a focus can often be bad ones. I was once told that chess reveals who you are and that you bring to the game facets of your personality. If this is true, and chess is indeed a gentleman's and gentlewoman's sport, I am assured there won't be any Luis Suarez biting stories similar to the one seen at the 2014 FIFA World Cup."

Benjamin said First Citizens Asset Management was again proud to partner the T&T Chess Foundation in hosting the Chess Carnival, an event which provides enthusiasts of the sport an opportunity "to hone their skills, make new friends and meet old acquaintances." She also thanked the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism for its assistance in hosting the tournament.

In his address, Foundation president Edison Raphael said while the Chess Carnival had grown over the years, its impact is "the success we experience through our players." Chess, he noted, is a competitive activity through which the country's youth can "enhance their critical and analytical skills which are fundamental to development of an innovative society."

Raphael urged the players to continue using chess as a vehicle for their personal development.


Darryl Smith Chairman, Diego Martin Regional Corporation.

Darryl Smith, Chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, thanked the Foundation for its outreach programme among the young people of his region. He disclosed that 40 youngsters had benefited from the chess course administered by the T&TCF in Carenage where a chess club is in the process of being formed.


Dr. Amery Browne, Former chess player and Member of Parliament for Diego Martin Central looking on as Gillian Benjamin of First Citizens Asset Management Ltd makes the first move to declare the tournament open.

Dr Amery Browne, Member of Parliament for Diego Martin Central, recalled his career as a young player and the lasting benefits he derived from chess which, he added, "is so much more than a game."

Samantha Seecharan, former ranking junior, in delivering the closing address, said that chess reminded her of the great Thomas Edison who discovered ten thousand ways an electric light bulb would not work, but eventually figured out what he was doing incorrectly. Excelling at anything, she said, "requires focus, patience, practice and the ability to always keep trying."