Chess has been played in Fiji for a long time, but it was the 1972 World Championship, between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, that provided the impetus for chess competitions in the country with the formation of the Suva Chess Club. Other chess clubs soon sprang up, like the Fiji School of Medicine Chess Club and the University of the South Pacific Chess Club. In 1979 it was decided to from the Fiji Chess Federation, to enable participation in international tournaments and to get international support and recognition. The founding members of the Fiji Chess Federation were Dr Champak Rathod, Dr Virgilio De Asa, Dr Som Prakash, Nazim Khan, Surjeet Singh, Len Raj and Damodara Naidu.
The Fiji Chess Federation obtained sponsorship for regular tournaments and players were given chess rating. In 1986 the Federation sent its first team to the 27th Chess Olympiad in Dubai with help from the organising committee of the Olympiad. The team was made up of Surjeet Singh, Damodara Naidu, Jaiwant Singh, Dr Virgilio De Asa and Dr Jasvinder Singh, with Surjeet Singh as the Captain. Despite it being the first international tournament for all the players, the team performed credibly with one of its members, Jasvinder Singh, obtaining an international rating.
The military coup of 1987, put restrictions on chess games on Sundays and by the end of the year, the president and treasurer had resigned due to work commitments. The leadership of the Federation passed onto Surjeet Singh, who was elected president. Despite the hard times that Fiji was going through at this period, Singh went on to reorganise the Fiji Chess Federation with the establishment of some new chess clubs. Some of these were the Lautoka Chess Club, Nausori Chess Club and some school chess clubs. Chess lessons were provided free of charge and efforts were made to promote chess through the media.
The Federation organised fund raising activities to send a team to the 28th Chess Olympiad. In 1988, the Federation using its funds and with some member contributions, sent a team to the 28th Chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki, Greece. The team was made up of Surjeet Singh as Captain, Jaiwant Singh, Bal Krishna, Rakesh Kumar and Satendra Deo.
Fiji Chess Federation’s history took another turn when at the end of 1989, Surjeet Singh resigned as President to reside overseas. Other members, like Dr Sanmogam Goundar, stepped in and the Federation has continued to function smoothly with teams being sent to most of the Chess Olympiads.
Dr Virgilio De Asa was elected President from 1990 – 1994. In 1995, Prof David Jenkins of the University of the South Pacific was elected President in a very tightly contested election. Dr De Asa was re-elected in 1996 and has maintained his presidency unopposed until his retirement in June 2014.
Calvin Prasad was Acting President from June 2014 after Dr De Asa’s retirement. He was elected unopposed in 2014 and 2015 and is the current President.