Home / Around DB Articles / Celebrating 10 Years! CAISSA HONG KONG CHESS CLUB


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Founded in 2012 by 18-year DB resident David Garceran Nieuwenburg, Caissa Hong Kong Chess Club is one of the oldest and largest chess clubs in the city. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, Caissa provides training, tournaments, events and camps for its members, aged four to 60 years.

Caissa launched modestly enough with just five students, providing classes out of DB Community Centre. Now, the club has over 250 members and hosts classes in DB North Plaza, Sheung Wan and schools around Hong Kong.

Ask David, who was competing in tournaments in his native Holland at age eight, why he founded Caissa, and he says: “Hong Kong has no real chess scene like you’d find in Europe. I put my children into some local schools but found the teaching too random; the teachers were not rigorously trained.” On joining Caissa, students get to learn from a team of six International Chess Federation licensed coaches, two of whom, Matthew Tan and Marcos Llaneza Vega, have earned the prestigious title of International Master.

“The Caissa coaches really are the heroes of the hour,” David says. “They are the professional instructors, many hired from abroad. They are the face Caissa presents to students and their parents.” Over the last 10 years, Caissa coaches have played an essential role in nurturing youngsters’ love for chess, partnering with schools from Malvern College and Harrow International School to Discovery College and Discovery Montessori Academy. Children as young as four can learn the basics of chess through workshops and game playing, and Caissa is currently rolling out a programme for kindergarten-age kids for the first time.

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“Chess is fun. It’s about connecting with others and exchanging thoughts and ideas,” David says. “It’s not the kind of thing you should enrol kids in because there is a gap to fill between piano lessons and Mandarin. Chess club shouldn’t be somewhere kids go simply to improve their mathematical capabilities either; that’s a side effect.”

At Caissa, the coaches encourage players of all ages to experiment with alternative chess forms to keep them thinking and having fun. “We always try to do something new in Hong Kong in regards to chess,” David explains. “For instance, we hold Fischer Random events which help players stay creative as there are 960 different starting positions possible.”

Among Caissa’s most widely used teaching methods is the Steps Method, developed by Royal Dutch Chess Federation members Rob Brunia and Cor van Wijgerden. “The Steps Method consists of six steps, each of which corresponds to a rating, step one equalling 800 and step six up to 2,100,” David explains. “Our Senior Trainer Matthew Tan worked very closely with van Wijgerden.”

Right now, David and his team are preparing to host a series of winter camps for kids age five and up in DB North Plaza and, with borders open, they are looking forward to competing internationally again next year.

For more on Caissa Hong Kong Chess Club, call 6938 7603, email [email protected] or visit www.caissahk.org.

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