Many times after a disaster, the shock and awe of suffering is felt by many around the world as we see emotional images of death and despair. Unfortunately, when the news media no longer carries these stories, we soon forget about the conditions the cameras and reporters have left behind. Certainly, the heavily-affected countries have continued to make progress of recovery, but not without tremendous difficulties. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka has forged ahead is using chess activism to bring normalcy back to its society.
In Sri Lanka, it appears that the chess community has continued to forge ahead despite the loss of two school-age chess players. The Sri Lankan chess federation also took 22 players to India for a competition, showing a sign of strength and resilience. In addition, a fundraising exhibition was given by Indian Grandmaster, Pentala Harikrishna as he took on several female masters from different countries in an Internet battle. In a recent report sent by Suneetha Wijesuriya titled "Exhibition Chess for tsunami-affected players," another fundraiser will take place in Columbo, Sri Lanka:
Indian Grand Masters Ars Aarthie Ramaswamy and Meenakshi Subramaniam and R.B. Ramesh will join two Sri Lankan Fide Masters Dr. Harsha Aturupane and Harinlal Aturupane and Sri Lankan medal winners Lakshman Wijesuriya and Sarath Rupasinghe have readily accepted the invitation of Anatoly Karpov Chess Club to play simultaneous exhibition chess matches with Sri Lankan chess players.
Not much has been published about the chess communities in the other affected countries other than the devastating 14½-½ loss of Indonesian masters against computers in the "Man vs. Machine Shootout." African nations were dealing with various economic concerns before the powerful tsunami crashed into the eastern coast. The press paid little attention to African nations which includes the politically-unstable Somalia (150 tsunami deaths with 50,000 displaced). While chess may not be a priority in the recovery process, it can show a sense of national pride, provide a diversion from the horrific event and offer relaxation in the times of high stress. Sri Lankan chess community appears to be leading the way.
The Chess Drum, "The Days that Sri Lankans warmed my Heart," 30 December 2004.
The Chess Drum, "News from Sri Lanka Chess Community," 9 January 2005.
"Exhibition Chess for tsunami-affected Players," Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka), 13 February 2005.
Anatoly Karpov Chess Club (Sri Lanka)