The Fiji Chess Federation – Chess in Fiji

The Fiji Chess Federation is the main chess governing body in Fiji. A member federation of FIDE or the Fédération Internationale des Échecs, the Fiji Chess Federation coordinates virtually all of its major chess tournaments in Fiji.

The formation of the Fiji Chess Federation was actually borne out of the country’s long relationship with the game. Chess had long been a favorite past time in Fiji, although it would take the 1972 World Championship between Bobby Fisher and Boris Spasky to set the stage for the federation’s establishment. After this much-publicized event, numerous chess competitions sprang up all over the country, with the Suva Chess Club being the first to be formed. Several other chess clubs were established in its wake, with some of the most notable ones being the Fiji School of Medicine Chess Club and the University of the South Pacific Chess Club.

The Fiji Chess Federation was finally formed in 1979, in order to allow the country's players to participate in international tournaments, as well as to receive international support and recognition. The federation’s founding members were Dr. Virgilio De Asa, Dr. Champak Rathod, Dr. Som Prakash, Surjeet Singh, Nazim Khan, Damodara Naidu, and Len Raj.

Since being established, the Fiji Chess Federation has managed to secure sponsorship for regular tournaments around the country, and its member players were awarded chess rating. It was in 1986 when the federation was able to send its first team to the 27th Chess Olympiad, which was held in Dubai. The Fiji Chess Federation was able to manage this with assistance from the Olympiad’s organizing committee. Among the players that made up this team were Surjeet Singh in the position of team captain, Jaiwant Singh, Damodara Naidu, Dr. Jasvinder Singh, and Dr. Virgilio De Asa. The team performed admirably in the event, despite none of the players ever having played an international tournament before. Jasvinder Singh’s performance was particularly outstanding, and he was awarded an international rating as a result.

After the 1987 military coup in the country, the president and treasurer of the Fiji Chess Federation resigned from their posts, reputedly because of work commitments. Surjeet Singh then took over the role of president, and some of his more notable achievements were to reorganize the federation and to establish several new chess clubs in the country. Among the clubs established during this time were the Lautoka Chess Club, the Nausori Chess Club and several other school chess clubs. Concurrent with these developments, chess was heavily promoted in the media, and chess lessons were even provided to students for free.

The Federation went on to organize various fund raising activities with the goal of sending a national team to the 28th Chess Olympiad. With the help of members’ contributions as well as a considerable amount of its own funds, the Federation finally managed to send a team to the 28th Chess Olympiad, which was held in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1988. The Fiji team then included Surjeet Singh who reprised his role as Captain, Bal Krishna, Jaiwant Singh, Satendra Deo, and Rakesh Kumar.