John Tobisch has been traversing Europe for the past year with the idea of meeting those who are influential at shaping the chess scene.  Known primarily for his coaching back in his island home of Jamaica, Tobisch has set forth to help promote chess through numerous media outlets and public events. He wants to especially to locate talent in the Birmingham Pan-African community. Fellow Jamaicans Ryan Palmer and Omowale Nelson are active as well as a number of players from Africa.

Tobisch has been in England for the past year charting a course for chess promotion by attending various tournaments. He describes the atmosphere in the tournament halls as welcoming and cordial. He has met Zimbabwe star,
IM Robert Gwaze (who he describes as a "class act"), several English Grandmasters and also Garry Kasparov during a London book-signing.  Most recently, Tobisch has met young female teenage phenom Sabrina Chevannes at the Moathouse Hotel West Bromwich. He describes one evening as such:

Sabrina Chevannes on the cover of British Chess Magazine, October 2004

Sabrina Chevannes

"I went to the Moathouse Hotel in West Bromwhich to watch the 4 Nations Chess  League-the English equivalent to the strong Bundesliga in Germany. At this Tournament I managed to meet GMs Peter Wells, Petr Kiriakov, Baburin and I saw Robert Gwaze compete for the young and up coming team the Slough Sharks. My attention however was rivetted on Sabrina Chevannes who was playing like Karpov in a Caro-Kann Exchange."

Chevannes won several national titles and most recently was featured on the cover of the British Chess magazine for her performance in the UK Chess Challenge (pictured upper right). Her unmistakable presence on the British chess scene was the cause for excitement in both England and within the African Diaspora. Female players such as Chevannes, Medina Parrilla (US) and Deborah Richards (Jamaica), Yvonne Saina (Zambia) show that there is a bright future for Black women in chess.

In his conversation with her, she explained that she had taken a break from chess for personal reasons, but that she is seeking sponsorship to further her chess ambitions. It is her feeling that the structure in the British Chess Federation does not provide adequate support. She is concentrating on her "A" levels or advanced level examinations which are a fixture in the British system for admittance into the university. Tobisch hopes to make contact with
Lennox Lewis, the world champion boxer from England (via Jamaica) who plays and supports chess. Let's hope that Tobisch makes headway into the Black communities in Europe where chess has yet to take hold.

John Tobisch

John Tobisch

Posted by The Chess Drum: 13 April 2005