Up Close and Personal with Tris-Ann Richards

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The president of the St Lucia chess federation TRIS-ANN Richards was interviewed by Adesewa Oyewole for a BruvsChess Media series “Up, Close and Personal “. 

She gave interesting insights on chess in St Lucia. In this interview, TRIS-ANN Richards speaks about her achievements, the importance of having more female chess players, her plans to take chess to the next level as the president of the St Lucia chess federation, amongst other topics.

MODERATOR: Nice to have you here, TRIS-ANN Richards. Thank you for taking out time to have this interview.

TRIS-ANN: My pleasure.

MODERATOR: Can you introduce yourself?

TRIS-ANN: Thank you for having me. My name is TRIS-ANN Richards, and I am the president of St Lucia chess federation, St Lucia in the Caribbean. We are a pretty young federation, but we are progressing.

MODERATOR: Why chess?

TRIS-ANN: Why not chess though? I always found it fascinating and always wanted to learn it. My friends taught me how to play, and like every other new chess player, I lost my first game. As the competitive person that I am, I learned it and even did it as a course in university. That was the easiest “A” I had ever gotten.

MODERATOR: Have you participated in any tournaments, national and international?

TRIS-ANN: Yes, I played some online chess. I also happen to be the current St Lucia women chess champion which is quite grand. I also participated in some tournaments during high school.

MODERATOR: What inspires you to play chess?

TRIS-ANN: I love the game and have a passion for the game. I feel the need for more women to be more involved, I think that is what drives and inspires me. I think chess is an amazing game, not only is it fun to play, it has numerous benefits for your brain and also has an impact on society. People who have disorders have played chess and have gotten better; chess can prevent dementia. It has been introduced in prisons, rehabilitation centers, and drastic improvement has been noticed. I feel chess is underrepresented in many countries.

TRIS-ANN Richards, President of St Lucia chess federation.

MODERATOR: Congratulations on your appointment as St Lucia chess federation president. How has the experience been in general?

TRIS-ANN: St Lucia is one of the countries in the world where your boss is likely to be a woman. I have had tremendous support from everyone, young women come up to me and say how proud they are. So far it has been a beautiful journey and I have plans for what I want to accomplish.

MODERATOR: What is chess like in St. Lucia.

TRIS-ANN: We became a federation in 2020. Before that, there was no proper organization for chess players. We are a young federation and have a lot of potentials. Chess has continued to grow, and we have good players. We also have ties with other regions, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad. We will also be participating in the upcoming online chess Olympiad.

MODERATOR: Would you say you are more focused on getting more women to play chess in St. Lucia?

TRIS-ANN: I am more focused on getting more females in chess. I teach classes that are paid for but I teach females for free. I have a challenge which is coming up, it is called “The Queen Gambit Challenge” which I would be encouraging women to come on a program. I will teach them how to play chess and they will participate in tournaments. A lot of persons recently got into chess after watching the Queen’s Gambit.

MODERATOR: Do you think you have been reaching out to more women?

TRIS-ANN: Yes, I do, in the way I look, in the way I dress and carry myself, I want to show women that you don’t have to look a particular way to play chess. Typically, when thinking of playing chess we think of a white old man, not even a person of color much less a woman, an attractive one. They need to see someone that looks like them playing chess and know they can do it. Recently there has been an increase in the number of female members that are part of my federation, and I have set a goal that “by 2030 at least half of the chess players in my federation will be females” this is something I hope sets us apart from other federations and countries.

MODERATOR: By 2030 I will check up with you on that.

TRIS-ANN: You can hold me to that.

MODERATOR: Why do you think chess is a male-dominated sport?

TRIS-ANN: I think it is multi-faceted. One of the major reasons I think is back in the days, women were taught to be stupid, a woman playing chess was almost a taboo. The current FIDE president is currently doing a tremendous job on inclusiveness. Even now women’s tournaments are not publicized. Chess is not a sport that was marketed for women. That is why I think it is important for women in chess, women like me to market themselves. most of the top leading chess countries didn’t favor women in playing chess in the past

MODERATOR: What have you done to develop chess before your appointment as President- St. Lucia Chess Federation?

TRIS-ANN: I am more for the social impact chess has on society, I started something called “CHESS WITH TRIS”. I am Jamaican and chess is very popular in Jamaica, back there I always had someone to play with. Moving here I couldn’t find anyone to play with. I started teaching the visually impaired to play chess, it was very exciting and it is one of the things I had ever done in my life. Covid 19 interrupted things though.

MODERATOR: What is “CHESS WITH TRIS” all about?

TRIS-ANN: It is a non-profit organization majorly to teach people how to play chess, people that would normally not be allowed to play chess, especially with women

MODERATOR: You are Jamaican-born, why St. Lucia? Why not chess in Jamaica?

TRIS-ANN: I fell in love with St. Lucia. Chess is very developed in Jamaica; they have a lot of chess players. I feel my skill was needed here more than in Jamaica. I work with the Jamaican federation’s president. I feel really lucky to be here.

MODERATOR: What are your plans to take St. Lucia to the next level?

TRIS-ANN: There is a lot of disorganization concerning chess here, I am working on introducing chess into the school’s curriculum. I want to develop chess here. We presently have two Nobel laureates here in St. Lucia, there are a lot of great minds here, and we are going to show the world that.

MODERATOR: A year from now, what great things do you plan to achieve as President of St. Lucia Chess Federation

TRIS-ANN: To take St. Lucia’s first team to the Russia Olympiad, will be a great deal. Overall, will be to increase membership and involvement in chess.

MODERATOR: It was nice talking to you. Thank you for taking the time to have this conversation with me.

TRIS-ANN: Thank you so much for having me.

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