Making strategic moves to reach goals

Jissmon Mathew, the first Keralite to become a FIDE arbiter, talks about how he achieved his dream

Published: 27th December 2017 11:10 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th December 2017 08:01 AM   |  A+A-

Jissmon Mathew at a chess tournament

Express News Service

KOCHI:Nothing is arbitrary about Jissmon Mathew who has been successfully arbitrating chess events. And he has been judging chess competitions successfully for quite some time. Jissmon is the first Keralite to become a FIDE arbiter. A title which authorises him to arbitrate international level chess events. He also arbitrated the World Youth Olympiad which was recently held in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

He began his journey as an arbiter in 1991 and obtained FIDE C certificate in 2012. Jissmon, who has arbitrated over 50 international FIDE rated tournaments, says, “I decided to become an arbiter and not a professional chess player because the amount of time and money that have to be invested is huge.”
“The journey had been a tough one. It was risky to apply for the FIDE arbiter position. It even seemed impossible since no one from Kerala had ever bagged that position before. However, the risk was worth it,” he says.

According to Jissmon, getting the FIDE certification is the highlight of his journey as an arbiter. “The position is hard to come by since one has to undergo tedious procedures including training programmes, written exam and practical sessions,” says Jissmon. The role of an arbiter is quite challenging since the person has to observe the game keenly and cannot afford to make any mistakes while making a decision.
“Chess has developed a lot in the last decade thanks to the introduction of software and artificial intelligence. The role of an arbiter also became easier with the arrival of computer-generated pairing devices,” he says.

Jissmon took up playing chess at quite a young age. He competed in the school-level championships and later moved onto the collegiate level. According to Jissmon, nowadays, chess has become a game which is more about strategy than talent. “The players know every game by heart and move according to the game plans. Back in my time, the players had fewer chances of obtaining theoretical knowledge. Today players have innumerable resources at their fingertips,” he says.

Jissmon’s dream as an international arbiter is just another two tournaments away. “The World Youth Olympiad was the most colourful and memorable experience,” says Jissmon who was a deputy arbiter at the tournament. He is a teacher at St Thomas Higher Secondary School, Pala and also coaches players for tournaments.


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