Chess Olympiad: Teenage sensation Adani Clarke, an inspiration for Jamaicans

Keisha-Lue Chong Gayle and her daughters Kaity and Kaia are spending a part of their summer holidays in Mamallapuram. But for Kaia, this trip is largely all-work as she tries to walk in Clarke’s footsteps in representing her country at the Olympiad.

Team Jamaica’s Kaia Gayle (R) with her mother and sister at the Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram.

Team Jamaica’s Kaia Gayle (R) with her mother and sister at the Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram. | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam 

Keisha-Lue Chong Gayle and her daughters Kaity and Kaia are spending a part of their summer holidays in Mamallapuram. But for Kaia, this trip is largely all-work as she tries to walk in Clarke’s footsteps in representing her country at the Olympiad.

In the visitor’s space at the 44th Chess Olympiad stands a photo wall. From Judit Polgar to R Vaishali, the art installment features a number of pathbreaking women in chess. In the mix is the photograph of Adani Clarke. The teenage chess sensation from Jamaica is an inspiration for many from her nation, especially so in the case of a bunch of women in yellow and green seated right beside it.

Keisha-Lue Chong Gayle and her daughters Kaity (16) and Kaia(12) are spending a part of their summer holidays in Mamallapuram. But for Kaia, this trip is largely all-work as she tries to walk in Clarke’s footsteps in representing her country at the Olympiad.

While this might be their maiden visit to Chennai, it’s easy for a Jamaican can feel connected to in this part of the world. A Courtney Walsh fan, Keisha-Lue understands India’s superiority in cricket but has been introduced to its traditions in chess largely during this visit.

“We both like our cricket. We like our flavours and curries and now I see we love our chess too,” she says.

“I did not know how vibrant Chennai’s role is in Indian chess. The big percentage of Grandmasters from this city alone is impressive,” she adds.

The playing halls are not the only spots for players to test their minds in the game. Chess board set ups in the lawn give players like Kaia multiple opportunities to play and learn from a wide range of players and levels of experience.

“The other day, she won against IM Amaba Claude from Cameroon in one of the outdoor installations and has been taking this time to follow a few other players and learn from their games too,” Keisha-Lue adds.

The biggest target though, as far as chance meetings and chess lessons go, is Magnus Carlsen. With Norway moving to hall two (where Jamaica plays) by virtue of their results, this might not be as impossible as it was early in the tournament.

“The hall is so crowded, and it hasn’t been possible so far, but we will keep trying in the days we have left,” comes the suggestion from Keisha-Lue that has her kids smiling.

With two days left in the Olympiad, Keisha-Lue is quickly making a checklist of things to take back with her - sarees, local foods, souvenirs etc. For her daughters, she hopes the experience spurs them and more like them to take to the sport and fly the Jamaican flag around the world.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :
Download Sportstar App
Download Sportstar App
 I-DAY SPECIAL: 75 ICONIC SPORTING MOMENTS
Connect With Us