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Welcome to the FIDE newsletter

Welcome to the FIDE Newsletter #12. In this issue, we focus on three important initiatives: the support program to chess seniors, the FIDE PDC Forums, and the Cooperation Agreement with ChessMatec. We also report on the results of the Irish Chess Championship, that reached its 99th edition, and the Women's Polish Chess Championship. And of course, we also bring you the groups for the top division of the Online Chess Olympiad.

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FIDE Online Olympiad reaches the Top Division stage

The FIDE Online Olympiad Division 2 came to an end this weekend. In all pools, the fight for Top-3 spots came down to the wire. Indonesia, Netherlands, Croatia & Argentina punched their tickets to the high chess society in the very last round. A complete report is available on the FIDE website.

These are the teams that made their way into the Top Division:
The pools for the Top Division have just been announced, and these are the rating favorites pool by pool:
 
Pool A Pool B Pool C Pool D
China Ukraine Russia USA
India Azerbaijan Armenia Cuba
Germany Kazakhstan Romania Poland

You can find the complete list at Chess-Results.com.
ChessMatec: chess in a new way

We are pleased to announce that FIDE has signed a cooperation agreement with ChessMatec, the most advanced all-in-one chess learning platform for children.

The ChessMatec program allows kids to learn the basics of chess in an educational and fun game environment, with special emphasis on developing critical and creative thinking skills. It contains 9 courses and more than 2,000 mini-games and puzzles designed by Grandmaster and FIDE Senior Trainer Boris Alterman and his wife Luba Alterman, a former Ukrainian Women Champion who has a Bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science and Education.

A multi-platform tool, ChessMatec can be used on PC, tablets, and smartphones.  The user can log in from any device and continue right where he/she left it. As it is mandatory for any learning platform aimed at children, ChessMatec provides a safe environment: no personal data is collected, it requires no social interaction, and it is free of ads.

ChessMatec also includes an interface for chess teachers, which provides the curriculum, lesson plans, and resources needed to run a successful "chess in school" program. This tool offers multi-student support and includes a Classroom Management solution that allows teachers to easily create classrooms, import students, and see helpful metrics. In 2019, it had already been used by more than 1,000 schools in 10 different countries, totaling more than 200,000 users.

Thanks to this agreement, all of you are entitled to a 50% discount on yearly subscriptions to ChessMatec. In order to claim this discount you have to follow these steps:

1- Visit www.chessmatec.com
2- Click on “Buy Now”.
3- You will reach the sign-up section, you will be asked to fill in Email, Password and Password confirmation.
4- You will reach the payment section. The price will go down from $30 to $15. Please fill in the details.
5- Once you have registered your account, you can download the app from the Google Play Store, or the Apple Store, and log in using the account (email and password) you just registered on the website.
6- The purchase is for a whole year without renewal. To renew the purchase next year use the same instructions.

 
PDC Fed Forums

The Planning and Development Commission, often shortened as PDC, is one of the most important bodies within FIDE. The crucial role played by PDC is perfectly acknowledged by the national federations, but it is not so well known by the general public – at least, not to the extent we think it should.

The primary goal of the PDC is the institutional strengthening of the various arms of FIDE including federations, continental bodies, and member associations. FIDE comprises 195 members of which more than 70% are under-developed as it relates to chess activity and management. To tackle this problem, the PDC was given the mandate in 2018 to manage the FIDE development fund, and in 2019 seventy-seven federations were approved for funding totaling just over US$1 million.

The support provided by FIDE to these federations is not limited to financial aid. “It is critical to better understand the environment in which federations operate in order to enhance the effectiveness of the PDC's work and programs,” explains Sonja Johnson, chairperson for PDC.

With this in mind, the Planning and Development Commission has recently launched the PDC Fed Forums:  virtual meetings of about 60-90 minutes, which aim at engaging the federations in small groups, taking into consideration their time zone and language.

You can read more about this initiative on the website of the Planning and Development Commission.
Michael John Basman. PHOTO: David Llada
A tribute to our seniors

Last week FIDE announced the names of ten chess seniors who will benefit from FIDE's support to chess veterans. A total of €21.000 will be distributed among them, added to the €35,000 that has already been distributed in April 2020. This second package of financial aid raises the total to a record €56.000.

These are the ten beneficiaries, chosen among more than 30 applications by a special panel appointed by the FIDE Council:

GM Rafael Vaganian (Armenia)
IM Anatoly Bykhovsky (Russia)
WGM Lyudmila Saunina (Russia)
IA Viktor Kart (UKR/Germany)
WGM Lidia Semenova (Ukraine)
Petko Petkov (Bulgaria)
IM Raimundo Garcia (Argentina)
IM Rico Yap Mascarinas (Philippines)
IM Michael Basman (England)
GM Włodzimierz Schmidt (Poland)

As we did on previous occasions, we would like to pay tribute to these illustrious veterans with a few words about each one of them, summarizing their careers and achievements. You can find the article on the FIDE website.
Tom O'Gorman. PHOTO: Colaiste Eanna
Old tradition, new young champion

The 99th edition of the Irish Chess Championship took place in Dublin, August 1-9. Half of the 32 participants were 21 years old or less, including the youngest ever entrant to the Irish Championship: Kavin Venkatesan at age 11.

The winner came out of this group of youths: Tom O'Gorman, born in 2002, achieved his first title, being the only player to score 7/9.

Before the last round, it seemed as if FM Colm Daly was in prime position to snatch his seventh title in the championship. He had a half-point lead and had white in the last game. However, O'Gorman won his game very quickly despite playing black, and put the favorite under additional pressure. Daly came out of the opening with an uncomfortable position and fought till the end, but he was unable to save even a draw that would have forced a tie-break.

The event was played under strict Covid-19 protocols, "in the hope of keeping everyone as safe as possible and potentially offering a blueprint to bringing other events and competitions back in the Covid-19 era", explains the Irish Chess Union on its website. We can only hope that nothing gets in the way of making the 100th edition a great celebration for Irish chess.

More information: https://www.icu.ie
Another first-time winner

The MOKATE 2020 Polish Women's Chess Championship was a 10-player round-robin taking place in Ostrów Wielkopolski, from 4-12 August. And like the Irish Championship, the event crowned someone who had never won the title before: the International Master Karina Cyfka, previously known as Karina Szczepkowska.

Since 1999, the Polish Women's Chess Championships have been dominated by three names: Iweta Rajlich (8 titles), Monika Socko (7 titles), and Jolanta Zawadzka (4 titles). So it was a little surprise that both Socko and Zawadzka were out of contention before the beginning of the last round. The title was to be decided between two good friends, Karina Cyfka and Klaudia Kulon who, after drawing their respective games in the 9th round, had to face each other in a rapid playoff. The talented and super aggressive Klaudia is considered a specialist in fast time controls, but on this occasion she was outplayed by Karina, who ruthlessly won both games.

This is the second big victory in a row for the 32-year-old Karina, who back in March won the inaugural edition of the Polish Online Chess Cup. An experienced IM with a peak rating of 2431, Karina's career took off with a silver medal in the World Youth Chess Championships (Girls U16) in 2003. She would get another two silver medals at the Baku Chess Olympiad in 2016, one as a member of the Polish team, plus an individual one for her performance on the third board. However, the victory in the national championship was something pending in her career: a title that had escaped her in her previous 15 participations, where her best result had been a 3rd place in 2017.

There is a little detail that makes Karina's victory even more special: she competed while being 8-months pregnant. There is some debate as to whether this was a handicap or an advantage since, as someone jokingly pointed out, "it was two against one in every game!". One way or another, we would like to offer Karina double congratulations.

More information: http://mpk2020.pzszach.pl

Is chess an Esport?

These days Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura are exchanging blows at the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Final: after three days of exciting play, the American Grandmaster leads by "2 sets to 1". 
 
But both players are scoring points on and off the board. Yesterday, Nakamura hit the 500K followers milestone on Twitch, being the first chess channel on Twitch to get there. On the same day, the British newspaper The Telegraph devoted a whole page of the Sunday newspaper to tell how the World Chess Champion has overtaken the top earners on the esports prize chart for 2020, according to www.esportsearnings.com.

This sparked a little debate: should chess be considered an Esport? 
A pictorial tribute to the Chess Olympiads

Approximately one year ago, FIDE created a photographic archive on Flickr, with the aim to share photos with the media, but also to start preserving important moments from our official competitions.

Now, we have incorporated to this archive two albums with all the official photos from Batumi 2018 and Baku 2016, and we will be shortly adding the ones from Tromsø 2014. For the most part, these photos are the work of David Llada, who has been the official photographer in all the Chess Olympiads since Istanbul 2012. But you will also find among them some masterpieces by the super talented Alina L'Ami.

It is very fortunate that chess can be played online, and we are very grateful for the warm welcome that the First Online Olympiad has received from the chess community. However, it is difficult to forget that right now many of us should be in Moscow. So we thought that these photos could bring you back some cherished memories.

You can check the galleries by doing click on the following thumbnails:

 
Mikhail Botvinnik. PHOTO: Harry Pot
Anniversaries

The 6th world chess champion Mikhail Botvinnik was born on August 17, 1911. The first of the Soviet world champions, he kept the title for most of 1948 to 1963. 

Botvinnik is called the "Patriarch of the Soviet Chess School" as he was a model and a teacher for generations of Soviet players. His ideas on chess training, including a strict regimen of life, extensive theoretical research, an important role of analyzing games made a basis for what we now call the "Soviet chess school".

"By strictly observing Botvinnik’s rule regarding the thorough analysis of one’s own games, with the years I have come to realize that this provides the foundation for the continuous development of chess mastery," - Garry Kasparov.

Among the main upcoming birthdays, we find some other important names, like Vadim Zvjaginsev (who will turn 44 tomorrow), the three-times US Champion Lev Alburt, the "Grandes Maestros" Paco Vallejo and Alonso Zapata (21 and 22 of August, respectively), the British GM Daniel King (August 28), and the former Women's World Champion Anna Ushenina (August 30).

Another relevant chess personality stands out on the list: Arpad Elo. Born on August 25, 1903, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he moved to the US with his parents when he was barely 10 years old. In his thirties, Elo was the strongest chess player in Milwaukee, and he won the Wisconsin State Championship a total of eight times. By profession, Arpad was a professor of physics at Marquette University, and at some point, he set out to quantify how strong one’s chess ability really is. He devised an ingenious system to statistically rate and compare players' strengths, a system that very quickly became the norm. After one year it was adopted by the US Chess Federation, and within one decade FIDE had already established it as the world standard. It would later be adopted by many other sports to establish their official rankings.
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