The chess world is remembering FIDE Arbiter Carol Jarecki who passed away on Sunday, June 13 after a lengthy battle with cancer. For NSCF Executive Director Sunil Weeramantry the memories are especially poignant. “My entire teaching career may never have happened if it was not for the Jareckis,” he said. Sunil has often told the story of how, shortly after winning the New York State Chess Championship in 1975, he received a phone call from Dr. Richard Jarecki asking if he would teach their son. Sunil replied that he didn’t teach children, but Dr. Jarecki was insistent. Sunil began working with John Jarecki who went on to become the youngest ever National Master in the US at that time. Thus began Sunil’s career as a chess educator. It also marked the beginning of his friendship with Carol.
During this time, “chess mom” Carol started on her own career as a chess arbiter. There are a few stories of why Carol began training but Sunil says, “The real reason is she was bored by just waiting at tournaments while John played, and she wanted to do something.” While John stopped playing in his teens, chess became a passion for Carol who went on to become one of the most highly sought-after arbiters in chess. Carol presided at many international events, including such historic matches as Kasparov’s 1995 World Championship Title Defense against Vishy Annand at the World Trade Center, and his loss against IBM’s Deep Blue computer in 1997.
“Our lives intersected in many different spaces, from US events like the Amateur Team East and countless US Opens, to the Bermuda Internationals and FIDE Chess Olympiads around the world. She was also often an arbiter when Hikaru began playing top-level events.”
In reminiscing, Sunil shared several stories from their life-long friendship, but a particular one that stands out is how Carol most-likely gave a start to another impressive career. Carol had flown her own plane to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, for the 1989 World Youth Championship. She offered to take Sunil for a flight and Sunil brought along one of the Hunter students he was coaching at the competition. At one point, Carol said she wanted to talk to Sunil a bit and gave 16-year-old Jessica Ambats the controls. “That was the first time Jessica ever flew a plane and she went on to become one of the great aerial photographers,” Sunil said.
A major supporter of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation, Carol’s contributions to the foundation were far more than just financial. “She always believed in what I was trying to do,” said Sunil. “She will be sorely missed.”