|Little 'Chess Tiger'
By VERDEL BISHOP Wednesday, August 8 2007
click on pic to zoom inRonnie Nelson receiving his gold medal. At the left is Ruben Navarro and right Alejandra Renteria both of Colombia....Ronnie Nelson is known as the Caribbean “Chess Tiger.” However, the eight-year-old can easily be called the next Grand Master of Chess. The two- time National under eight and ten champion, represented Trinidad and Tobago at the Central American and Caribbean Games, taking gold with a clear six wins to attain the title of Candidate Master, according to World Chess Federation Regulations (FIDE).
When asked about his successes Ronnie responded, “I am a gifted child. I remember my first game. I was four years old and I was very happy to learn the game. I won that game and since then I started to practise and I got better and better.”
Some may question whether chess makes kids smart or whether smart kids like chess, but the answer is simple and Ronnie clears it all up. He is a smart kid who likes chess. The little “Chess Tiger” started his basic lesson in chess at just four years old, learning the concept of the game in the short space of two hours. A month later he entered the competitive arena, taking an early win at the YMCA junior competition, hosted by Trinidad and Tobago Chess Association (TTCA). He continued to set a trail of wins at many local competitions, always placing among the top three.
Learning to play chess helps children visualise, analyse and concentrate. Unlike so many games played by younger children, chess is not a game of luck, but one that requires players to make purposeful, well-thought-out decisions.
Ronnie’s father and chess coach Ronnie Nelson Sr, agrees that the relationship between chess and acquiring math, reading and critical-thinking skills is fairly strong.
“If Ronnie was not playing chess, academics would have been harder for him,” said Nelson. Nelson makes it quite clear that he is a father first before he’s a coach, however, and there is no conflict of interest in coaching his son. “Ronnie practises three times a week and he juggles academics and chess quite well. It is very expensive to have a coach for Ronnie. It would cost at least $300 an hour or more for coaching. I use a computer software to teach him, which is quite simple to use,” he said.
The software Nelson employs for his son is the best on the market and is known for producing the best in the field of chess. Fritz 9 is a chess program that lets you meticulously analyse your own abilities as well as those of some of the elite grand masters and other notable players.
The software allows you to analyse a game during and after play.
At a young age, Ronnie has had quite a bit of international exposure and has played among the best of the best. He participated in HB Global Chess Challenge in Minnesota, Minneapolis, where he competed among the best in the world, and had the opportunity to meet seven times International Master, Josh Waitzkin, Grand Master Maurice Ashley and one of the youngest World’s Grand Master, Nikamura and IM Dr Daaim Shabazz of the Chess Drum. He was also highlighted on the front page of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis after taking two wins against his senior competitors.
A sportsman’s journey is never without struggles. The next step is to get Ronnie a personal laptop so he can practise his games on his own and sponsorship for up coming tournaments. “We are focussing on sponsorship to get him to a tournament in Barbados and next on the agenda are two tournaments in Miami which are the Winter Tournament and the Orange Bowl Chess Tournament,” Nelson said.
Ronnie is able to overcome the obstacles that he encounters from time to time with the support of his family. “My family supports me all the way, my aunts are always with me, always teaching me so I don’t have anything to worry about,” the chess master said.
Trinidad and Tobago Chess Star Ronnie Nelson not only obtained a Candidate Master and Gold at the CAC. Champion of Chess but has created history as one of the youngest chessist to bring home gold for his country at such a prestigious tournament and will always be remembered as the player who took the gold from the top players from Colombia who had to settle for silver and bronze respectively. Ronnie notably thanks his sponsors and family for aiding him in achieving such a feat.