While activity came to a standstill due to COVID-19 making its presence felt in March 2020, students enrolled in the A Step Ahead Chess club remained committed.
The club was created by Founder and Director Shawn Sorsby in 2016. But while the pandemic limited the group’s opportunities, it allowed Shawn to create a virtual platform to convene.
In March of last year, the group launched the online model, chess.com, which started out with just 20 members. Fast forward a year later and the group now has over 200 chess players registered, something Sorsby credited to his player’s resilience and forward thinking.
“In March 2020, the world was suddenly put on pause, but these students remained committed. Immediately, everyone was impacted, but this small group of young chess players refused to allow any pandemic to stop them.
“Our students are problem solvers, so a global pandemic gave them an opportunity to rise up, to be creative in a time of crisis. While the entire world began to separate, these young people grew closer together, and in a decade of teaching, I have never been more proud of a group of students,” Sorsby said.
“From their resilience, opportunity grew. In March 2020 A Step Ahead Chess had only 20 members in its online club on chess.com. As the pandemic expanded, schools closed, and we decided to do an online tournament via a live Zoom call. The students had a blast and from the chaos, our creativity grew.
“Twelve months later, our club has also grown. From 20 members to over 200 chess players, we have seen an over 1000% increase in the past year.
“What started as a few students on Grand Bahama Island has grown to having players from 15 states and across the globe, including Nassau, Nigeria and Mexico.”
Sorsby said the development is just the start of something special for the club as there is the growing belief of an increase in membership.
“We just recently awarded all students full scholarships to Ahead of the Game Academy, a sister organization which offers virtual courses in math, financial literacy, chess, and coding, for chess lessons. They also have free registration for virtual chess tournaments with A Step Ahead Chess.
As for the president of the A Step Ahead Bahamas Chapter, he shared, “Our motto is ‘Make Your Next Move Your Best Move.’ And as long as we’re thinking ahead we'll continue moving no matter what challenges the world gives."
Sorsby concluded that once travel becomes easier students the club plans to take trips to compete in international tournaments.