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Welcome to the FIDE newsletter

Welcome to the bi-weekly FIDE Newsletter. The most important topic in this issue is the FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup, which was announced last week. We also make a brief compilation of the main charity activities launched by the members of our community, and we pay tribute to Donald Schultz, who passed away on Monday, April 20, in New Jersey. 

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FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup


This week our federation rolled out its newest project: an epic match-up between six teams representing China, Europe, Russia, USA, India, and the "Rest of the World". Co-organized by FIDE and the world's largest online chess platform, Chess.com, this online event echoes the historical "USSR vs. Rest of the World" match, which was played exactly half a century ago. It also draws some similarities with golf's Ryder Cup, or with the Six Nations Championship in rugby.

But times have changed, and unlike the classical event held in Belgrade, the FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup is more global (six teams representing six realms), played under rapid format, and entirely online. It is also gender-inclusive, since teams must include two women, with at least one in the starting line-up. The first stage, a double round-robin with six teams, will take place on May 5-9. The top two teams will then play in a Superfinal on Sunday, May 10, to determine the champion. The games will be played under a 25'+10" time control.

"This is a unique event that will combine competitive chess at the highest level, with a top-notch online spectacle", stated our President, Arkady Dvorkovich. "The reasons why an official tournament like this has to be conducted online are very unfortunate - but we are happy to see that chess is providing solace to millions of people who are under a home lockdown: they can play themselves, and they can also enjoy the thrill of a first-class sporting event".

The team rosters for the FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup were announced on Thursday, and they include 15 out of the 20 top players in the world. Some of those playing include Fabiano Caruana, Ding Liren, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Levon Aronian, Wesley So, Teimour Radjabov, Anish Giri and Viswanathan Anand will be some of the top guns, along with Hou Yifan, Ju Wenjun, Koneru Humpy, and the Muzychuk sisters.

If all this wasn't enough, the presence of Garry Kasparov as a captain for Team Europe, or Vladimir Kramnik as an honorary coach and adviser to the Indian team, implies that a total of six players who have held the title of World Chess Champion will take part in the event, plus twelve others who have been Candidates to the throne at some point.

The Chinese team, winner of a historic double gold in the last Chess Olympiad, will be the top seed at the FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup, with an average rating of 2717. China is followed in the initial ranking by Europe (2687), Russia (2662), USA (2641), India (2605), and the "Rest of the World" team (2597).



Original announcement, with more information and tournaments regulations.

Complete team rosters.

 

FIDE Seminars


More than 90 people joined the first workshop for chess organizes by FIDE Competitions Director Maxim Korshunov, held on April 13-14. In view of the high demand, this seminar was repeated again this week, on Monday and Tuesday (April 20-21), with very similar attendance. Maxim offered a demonstration of operational tools that can help chess organizers to deliver the best practices in worldwide events, advice on how to prepare operational plans, responsibility assignment matrices, activating a sponsorship, and how to integrate activities together with local authorities. A second stage workshop with more advanced content (for those who have already attended the first one), will be held today and tomorrow, April 27-28. We will do our best to accommodate late joiners: simply contact Maxim (korshunov@fide.com) to receive a link with the invitation.

Another important Seminar was the one organized by the FIDE Trainers Commission for East Asia and Oceania. The lecturers included some of the biggest names in Asia, such as FIDE Trainer Awards winners Ramesh RB (India) and Yu Saoteng (China), Asia's first grandmaster Eugenio Torre (Philippines) and Asia's first World Champion Xie Jun (China). Vishal SareenMykhaylo Oleksiyenko, Jayson Gonzales, and the Chairman of the TRG Commission Jacob Aagaard, completed the impressive list. It is no wonder that this seminar reached a record turnout of 73 participants!

FIDE would like to thank the Chinese Chess Association, Oceania Chess Confederation, Guam Chess, and the co-organiser Philippine Academy for Chess Excellence, for their help in making it happen. We are also very thankful to Emma Dong, who acted as a moderator and offered technical support.

May will see a German language seminar (May 1-3) led by FIDE Senior Trainer Uwe Boensch, who will be assisted by Artur Yussupow and Thomas Luther, and a Spanish language seminar (May 22-24) led by FIDE Senior Trainer Alonso Zapata. Full details of each seminar are published one the TRG website. All the questions regarding the seminars can be directed to trainers@fide.com.

FIDE Candidates' Countries Youth Tournament


On April 18-19, the Chinese Chess Association organized an online competition inspired by the Candidates Tournament 2020. Five teams representing China, USA, France, Russia, and the Netherlands -the nationalities of the eight players at the Candidates Tournament- took part. Each team consisted of five under-16 players (3 boys and 2 girls).

To make the number of participant teams even, a sixth team was added, playing under the FIDE flag and comprising five players from Cuba, Germany, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and India.

The motto of the event, held on Chess.com, was “Go World! Be Chess Smart against COVID-19!”. The tournament was broadcast live on China Leisure Sports TV Network, with Hou Yifan and Peng Zhaoqin as commentators. The highest ever rated woman-player Judit Polgar and the former women's World Champion Zhu Chen recorded videos of making the first symbolic moves in the event.

Team FIDE headed by GMs Nihal Sarin (2620) and Noribek Abdusattorov (2627) entered the competition as a prohibitive rating favorite, but in Round 1 it suffered a defeat at the hands of the Chinese squad. These two teams would tie for first place, with "FIDE" claiming the title by the total number of game points. Russia finished 3rd, USA 4th, while France and Netherlands shared 5-6th places. Bibisara Assaubayeva (Team FIDE) showed the best individual result in the event with 4 wins and 1 draw. Nihal Sarin (FIDE) and Huang Renjie (China) were the best on board one, each of them with a score of 4/5.

 

The chess community takes a step forward to support charity events


In our last issue, we made a recap of the main competitive activities that are being held online. This week we wanted to take a different angle and pay attention to something equally important. The coronavirus pandemic goes well beyond a health crisis: the economic consequences are also catastrophic, and many families and health organizations are struggling. We are very proud of the response of the chess community, from chess celebrities to the not-so-famous: a lot of fund-raising initiatives have been launched over the past week. These are some of them:

Viswanathan Anand, stranded in Germany after his return flight to India was canceled, has been especially active in this regard. Along with GMs Pentala Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi, Adhiban Baskaran, Humpy Koneru, and Harika Dronavalli, Anand took part in a charity simul held on Chess.com on April 16. "Team India" raised more than $6000 for India's Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund. On Saturday, April 25, Vishy teamed up with Vidit Gujrathi, Nihal Sarin, Tania Sachdev, and the popular YouTuber Antonio Radic, to play against a team of stand-up comedians in an online charity match.

Also in India, the Kerala Chess Association and Chessbase India have put together a very interesting online tournament, to be played on May 2 on Playchess. The Grandmasters Alain Pichot (ARG, 2630), our very own FIDE Vice-President Nigel Short (ENG, 2626), Sunilduth Narayanan (IND, 2618) and Dommaraju Gukesh (IND, 2563) will be the top seeds, with all proceedings going again to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund.

The strongest Russian grandmasters will play in a charity tournament to support health workers. Vladimir Kramnik, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Alexander Grischuk, Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Ernesto Inarkiev, and Alexander Riazantsev will represent and try to raise funds for their native regions. This will be a blitz tournament (5+2), double round-robin event, and it will be played on Lichess.org. The date has not been decided yet, but more details, including a bank account to receive donations, are available at the website of the Russian Chess Federation.

The charity #ChessAgainstCovid is an initiative by Kevin Goh, who just a few weeks ago became the second person from Singapore to achieve the Grandmaster title. His aim was to raise money to help families badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It started with a target of 10,000 SGD (about $7,000), but after they raised more than three times that amount in barely one week, now they have set the more ambitious goal of collecting 100,000 SGD ($70,000). The first week of the campaign was concluded with an online simultaneous exhibition by an Uzbekistani GM Andrey Kvon held on April 19. He took on 16 youngsters, most of them placing within the top 10 in their age groups and even three national champions. The end of the second week sees the simultaneous exhibitions by IMs Hsu Li Yang and Ravindran Shanmugam on April 25-26. You can find complete information on the FIDE website.

The French Chess Federation has liaised with the Fondation de France, which fights against the coronavirus. A 24 hours chess marathon will be held, starting from May 2 at 15:00, in cooperation with Lichess, Blitzstream, Europe-Echecs, Chess24Variantes, and Appredre-les-Echecs. The initiative will be supported by the most popular streamers in the country, who will try to mobilize the French-speaking chess community towards making online donations to the "Tous unis contre le virus" campaign run by the Fondation de France. The time control is blitz (5+2) and you can already register through this link to Lichess.org.
Clementine (7) Florence (9). Photo by CSC.

"One Million ChessKids" project launched in the UK.


As schools remain closed all across the United Kingdom, the charity Chess in Schools and Communities partnered with ChessKid, the world’s biggest online children’s chess platform, to offer one million free subscriptions to schools. The goal, as described in their press release, is to "make Britain smarter".

Every primary school in the UK can get involved by applying for up to 1,000 of the one million free ChessKid Gold subscriptions – giving unlimited access to the programme’s online lessons. By providing these, the organizations seek to add an extra-curricular dimension to every school’s remote teaching programme while children remain at home.

Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) is a UK charity founded in 2009, whose mission is to improve children’s educational outcomes and social development by introducing them to the game of chess. They currently teach in over 300 schools and support 500 more nationwide.

Leela Zero defeats Stockfish at the TCEC Superfinal 


For years now the Top Chess Engine Championship (TCEC) has been regarded as one of the most important competitions in the world for non-human players. It is structured as a league system, with promotion and relegation, where engines that are improving gradually get to start in higher divisions. The higher the division, the longer the thinking time they are given.
 

Pos Engine W D L Pts
1 Leela Chess Zero 10 24 2 22
2 Stockfish 7 29 0 21.5
3 AllieStein 6 27 3 19.5
4 Komodo 4 29 3 18.5
5 Stoofvlees 4 28 4 18
6 Ethereal 6 24 6 18
7 Fire 2 31 3 17.5
8 KomodoMCTS 1 30 5 16
9 Houdini 0 30 6 15
10 ScorpioNN 1 26 9 14


At the 17th edition of the TCEC, Leela Chess Zero and Stockfish qualified for the 100-game superfinal. Leela won by a considerable margin of five points (+17 -12 =71), coming from behind as Stockfisch was leading during the first third of the match. In general, it would be fair to say that Leela outplayed its rival and achieved favorable positions in many of the games, but Stockfish showed extremely accurate defensive resources.

While computer chess is not FIDE's jurisdiction, the Superfinal match between Leela Zero and Stockfish was such a thrilling match that we couldn't resist including it in our newsletter. Game 96, for instance, was a delightful masterpiece, a real treat to any chess lover. You can find all the games on the official website for the event: www.tcec-chess.com.

 

Donald Schultz (1936-2020)

This week brought the sad news of the passing of Don Schultz, a former member of the FIDE Executive Board (1982-1990), and US Chess President (1996-1999). He was 83.

Don worked full time for IBM, so he was never able to devote himself entirely to chess - and yet his contributions to promoting the game in the US were remarkable. His "day job" had him move to different states across the US (and even abroad), so he ended up being President of the NYS Chess Association, the North Carolina Chess Association, the Georgia Chess Association, and the Florida Chess Association.

One of the first events he organized was the 1963 New York State Open, which Bobby Fischer won with a perfect score. It was there that Bobby played 9.Nh3 against Bisguier in a game that found its way into "My 60 Memorable Games". He also organized the 1990 World Youth Championship in Fond du Lac (Wisconsin) where Judit Polgar won the Boys (!) Under 14 World Championship.

Schultz was also a well-known chess journalist, and the author of two chess books: "ChessDon" (1999) and "Fischer, Kasparov and the others" (2005). A close friend of Fischer, Schultz accidentally became one of the three members of his delegation during the 1972 match, an event that he was only planning to attend as a mere supporter. From then on, he would get involved in international chess affairs. He represented our institution as co-chair of the FIDE-UNESCO Commission during the years 1981-82, and he was a member of the FIDE Executive Board between 1982 and 1990. In total, he attended no less than 21 FIDE Congresses, in different capacities, between 1972 and 2005.

FIDE extends its condolences to the US chess family, and most of all, to Don’s family and loved ones.

Anniversaires

Tomorrow, a former world junior Champion, Darmen Sadvakasov, will turn 40 years old, and we would like to offer him our congratulations in anticipation. Darmen is also a five-time national champion of Kazakhstan and a member of the FIDE Strategy Commission.

We would also like to congratulate a living legend in our sport, Nona Gaprindashvili, who will celebrate her 79th birthday on May 3.

Another important date in the calendar is May 5, a day in which Rudolf Spielmann (1883) and Andor Liliental (1911) were born. The Ukrainian Grandmaster and two-time European women's champion Natalia Zhukova was also born on this day (1979).
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