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FCF mourns loss

Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari
Friday, January 13, 2017

ZEN Borg, a national chess representative who was to have left for New Zealand with Russell Taloga is today only reminiscing their chess days.

Borg, a former Yat Sen Secondary School student, now a student of the University of the South Pacific, has had chances to play chess with Taloga who became the first 2017 drowning victim in the country last weekend.

"In our last meeting, he was finally able to get his first rapid win against me. I was a bit disappointed, but now I am glad he won that day," Borg said.

The USP student said he had known Taloga for more than three years and remembered him as a popular student who had many friends.

"Some of the ex-Yat Sen students are still in shock and others are in disbelief about this incident and are now thinking about the many memories we used to have with him."

Taloga's death has left the chess community in Fiji mourning as the 16-year-old lad was to earn his first cap as a national representative at the 2017 Oceania Zonal Chess Championship in Auckland, New Zealand.

Candidate master Calvin Prasad said members of the Fiji Chess Federation (FCF) visited Taloga's family on Wednesday.

"Our condolences are with Russell's mum Pauline, his family, and his friends who are all devastated by this cruel loss," Prasad said.

Prasad said the Oceania chess fraternity would observe a minute of silence before the start of competition in Auckland tomorrow.

"Russell has been knocking on the selectors' door since 2014. He was a non-travelling reserve to the Olympiad in Azerbaijan last year, and finally made the cut to represent Fiji at the Oceania Zonal event next week, which would have been his first tournament abroad," Prasad said.

He added Taloga was a gifted and talented player who made a substantial impact in the events he played and was FCF's highest rated under-18 player and was rated 1504 at the start of this year.

Taloga has also won the secondary school division many times and has beaten most of Fiji's top players.

Since 2014, Taloga has participated in 27 FIDE-rated events and played 177 FIDE-rated games.

In his short career, the aspiring Grandmaster played 61 opponents from Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and Germany.

Prasad confirmed that a funeral service was planned at Yat Sen Secondaryb School on Saturday followed by a burial at the Vatuwaqa cemetery on the same day.

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