14th July, 2010
Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, staged an unusual appearance into sporting limelight Monday following the decision of prominent chess patrons to stage a mega bucks tournament to commemorate his 77th birthday next year in Nigeria.
The literary icon was 76 years old yesterday and some of the leading lights of the brain game in the country, led by Vice Admiral Jubril Ayila, (retd.), Dr. Silvanus Ebigwe, Theophilus Caiafas, Prof. Abisogun Leigh, Chief Dave Irabor and the incumbent President of Nigeria Chess Federation, NCF, DCP Sani Mohammed were all in attendance at the Media Centre, National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria for the epoch-making event to announce the maiden edition of the annual international event scheduled to hold from 10-17 July next year at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
The 10th world chess champion, Grandmaster Boris Spassky, has already conveyed his acceptance to beÂ at the grand opening to give a Simultaneous Exhibition at the event, being a good friend of Prof. Soyinka.
The tournament will feature a Masterâ€™s Section with the best of the countryâ€™s talented players nominated to play alongside some leading chess masters in the world, to earn International and Grandmasters norms. The event will also enable all chess players, both within and outside country, the opportunity to hone their skills in the Open Section of the event.Â The Classic event will be the highest pay day of any chess competition in the country as the organisers have planned a princely sum of â‚¬50,000 in the two categories of play.
Vice Admiral Jubril Ayila recalled that many people will remember Soyinka for his outstanding literary skills, like his timeless poem on Abiku where â€œIn silence of webs, Abiku moans shaping mounds from the yolk.â€ or his brilliant works in â€˜Kongiâ€™s Harvestâ€™, â€˜The Man Died: Prison Notes of Wole Soyinkaâ€™ or â€˜The Trials of Brother Jeroâ€™.