South African President Jacob Zuma has lauded Indian chess player Abhijit Gupta after he won the Commonwealth Championships in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth in Eastern Cape Province of the country. Zuma handed a gold medal to the 23-year-old,who has won 20 medals representing India at World,Asian and Commonwealth Chess Championships in sub-junior,junior and senior categories.
Winning silver was Sergii Fedorchuk of Ukraine,while the bronze medal went to Sergei Tiviakov of Netherlands. Nearly 900 participants from 29 countries participated in the 19th edition of the Commonwealth Chess Championships. Zuma earlier drew a game after 20 minutes against the youngest player in the championships,five-year-old Keagan Rowe from East London in South Africa,later saying he had sacrificed some pieces “to balance the game.”Zuma learnt to play chess while imprisoned on Robben Island alongside former president Nelson Mandela.
“Chess provided a solace to us that we needed in those conditions of isolation and deprivation. It propelled our minds beyond the confines of the prison walls and allowed us to reflect and to position our thoughts strategically to fight the (apartheid) regime,” Zuma said as he explained how prisoners had made chess sets out of soap and driftwood. Zuma also called for chess to be encouraged as a serious sport in schools. “(Chess) promotes latent skills among the children,patience,quick wit,decisiveness and confidence arising from competition with counterparts,including those from outside the country,” he said.