The Golden Pawn


Dewain Barber

Looking out the window of our 12 passenger plane I could see several four-wheel drive jeeps parked ready to receive the safari tourists from around the globe.My wife, Susan and I had arrived at a landing strip in the northern part of Tanzania for our East African Safari called, “The Great Migration”.

I brought with me 35 golden pawns to give away to persons I met on this trip.The question that can certainly be asked is, “Why a pawn and why a golden pawn?”Well, the story really begins with a shipment of surplus chess pieces I received.Upon review, I noted that there was a missing or broken piece from each of the sets that we examined.Thus, I was able to make up a few sets, but had many leftover pieces.As I looked at the pawns, I decided to paint them gold and give them away.

As a chess player who wants to promote the game, I like to share a story with the recipient of the golden pawn:Most of the time the pawn is the first piece moved in a game of chess.This was my first move to visit this part of the world, therefore, giving this gift seemed right.

The nice thing about chess is that it has an international appeal and the “language” of chess is spoken in every part of the world community.I do not need to speak Chinese, French, Hindi, Dutch or any other language.I “speak” chess.Truly, an international game! I have played chess against non-English speaking opponents in countries like Bulgaria, Peru, Japan, Vietnam and Egypt.

Our guides and trackers in Tanzania and Kenya as well as our host in each camp received a golden pawn.We also had the opportunity to visit a school in Kenya where I passed out pencils with chess imprints on them.

Upon returning from the trip, I prepared for the 2011 Denker Tournament of High School Champions which is in its 27th year and the newest National event, The Dewain Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions.Since the Delegates of the US Chess Federation had approved the Barber event, I thought that it would be something special for the first year of that event if I gave to each participant a golden pawn.It was my first move in the USCF Dewain Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions.