REPORTING BY Raphael Blet
PHOTOS BY Baljit Gidwani – www.evoqueportraits.com & Raphael Blet
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.