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Ghana mourns loss of esteemed chess arbiter John Solarays

The Ghana Chess Association (GCA) mourns the passing of John Solarays, the nation's longest-serving chess arbiter

The Ghana Chess Association (GCA) has announced the passing of John Solarays, Ghana’s longest-serving chess arbiter, on Friday (29 March), at the age of 68.

Solarays, revered for his significant contributions to the chess community, recently officiated as the Pairings Arbiter for the chess event at the 13th African Games and as the Arbiter for the 2024 African Individual Chess Championships (AICC), both held in Accra, Ghana.

Although formally acknowledged by FIDE as an arbiter in 2018 during the 89th FIDE Congress in Batumi, Georgia, Solarays has been an integral part of the chess scene since the 1990s, as explained by Candidate Master (CM) Edward Nii Lamptey Thompson.

Thompson remarked, “Solarays, I believe, is not what you may call a chess player; he knows how to play chess or he plays chess, but he is not the tournament player type. I think from the very word go, Solarays was more interested in this administration work being like a referee or the arbiter of a competition. So from the time that we met in the 90s, he has always veered into that area of chess that is arbitration.”

“Solarays has been an arbiter since the 90s. Those days when we started playing chess, becoming a FIDE arbiter and having a licence as an arbiter to be recognised as an official arbiter we didn’t use to do that in the 90s, so it is only this early 2000s that FIDE started licencing people to become FIDE arbiters so Solarays officially became an official FIDE arbiter.”

Thompson further emphasised Solarays’s dedication to the sport, noting his passion for the role of arbiter. “The guy is very passionate about his job; he undertakes his job with passion; he just loves the work; he just loves the work of being an official or an arbiter.”

The news of Solarays’s passing has generated an outpouring of condolences, with the African Chess Confederation (ACC) honouring his memory.

The ACC has requested a minute of silence to be observed before the commencement of any chess competition as a tribute to Solarays.

“We are glad he got an opportunity to officiate at the African Games and African Individual Chess Championship before his untimely death,” the ACC statement read. “With several tournaments pinned around the continent, the ACC Executive is kindly requesting that we observe a minute of silence before we start our chess competition.”

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