Welcome to the FIDE newsletter

Welcome to the bi-weekly FIDE Newsletter. The coronavirus crisis conditions most of the content in our third issue: all official competitions have been halted, but the online chess activity never ceases, and in fact, it is thriving. For many, the global lockdown is a great opportunity to acquire new knowledge and skills, so FIDE is launching a series of online seminars and workshops, as well as a campaign to encourage the members of our chess family to strive for self-improvement.



Stay home, stay safe, stay sharp!

The UN considers the COVID-19 pandemic the most challenging crisis since the Second World War. Probably it is also the most global event ever experienced in human history, and many think that we will come through the crisis reinforced as a society.

With an estimated four billion people under a lockdown of some kind, this can also be an opportunity to improve and grow as individuals. From the International Chess Federation, we would like to encourage you, first and foremost, to follow the public health recommendations. Stay home, and stay safe!

But we would also like to encourage you to stay active, both mentally and physically. Exercising will strengthen your immune system, improve your mental health, and make you feel better about yourself during this frightening period. Maybe you can't go to the gym, but you can still get great workouts anywhere you are thanks to YouTube. There are plenty of fitness channels with free videos, offering a huge variety of exercises, from aerobics and pilates to bootcamp and boxing.

Most people will enjoy more free time than usual during the lockdown. We have a near-limitless offer of TV shows, but, what if we make productive use of this time instead? A book is usually more enriching. Learning a new language is always a good option. Doing the same things but in a new and different way is common advice to prevent and limit brain aging, so why not to take up a new chess opening? Or set yourself a goal, like coming out of the quarantine as a stronger player: try and break your own rating record online!

If you post on social media what you are doing, using the hashtags #StayHome #StaySafe #StaySharp, we will be happy to share the most inspiring examples.

FIDE news and activities

FIDE has decided to postpone the World School Chess Championship, which was scheduled to take place in Panama City, from May 28th to June 7th. The new dates are November 1-11, 2020. Bookings and deposits will be transferred to the new dates, and in case any participant is not able to attend the event in these new dates, he will be fully refunded for their hotel bookings and registration fees. You can read the full announcement on the FIDE website.

Likewise, FIDE is considering the possibility to postpone all remaining 2020 competitions to 2021, and the 2021 competitions to 2022. We have just opened the bidding procedure to organize the following 2022 events, but those bidding for these championships should be prepared that their bids may be considered for 2023:

  1. World Junior Chess Championships 2022.
  2. World Youth U16 Chess Olympiad 2022.
  3. World Youth (U14, U16 & U18) Chess Championships 2022 (Europe).
  4. World Cadets (U08, U10 & U12) Chess Championships 2022 (Europe).
  5. World Youth & Cadets Rapid & Blitz Chess Championships 2022.
  6. World School Chess Championships 2022.
  7. World Senior Chess Championships 2022.
  8. Word Senior Team Chess Championships 2022.
  9. World Amateur Chess Championships 2022

Some good news: we are pleased to announce the first World Corporate Chess Championship. This is a new event in our portfolio: a team competition (4 boards) to be played on October 16-18, 2020. We have been working on this project for some months already, and a more detailed announcement will be published this week. As the old saying goes, "hope for the best, but plan for the worst": our firm intention is to hold the tournament -over the board- in Barcelona, in cooperation with the Catalan Chess Federation. We are hoping that the lockdown and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus outbreak will be lifted, and our normal life is resumed by then. However, if these prospects change, a decision will be made no later than August 1 to conduct the tournament online.

On a different matter, the FIDE Trainers Commission (TRG) has adapted very quickly to the new scenario, and no less than twenty Online Seminars are planned in the period between April 1 and September 30, 2020 - covering all geographical regions and accommodating all main languages.

The first of them was held for Europe (April 3-5), led by FIDE Senior Trainers Thomas Luther and Artur Jussupow. The next one will be for Asia, East Asia and Oceania (April 24-26), facilitated by the Senior Trainer Jayson Gonzales. The list of lecturers includes the biggest names in Asia, such as FIDE Trainer Awards winners Ramesh RB (India) and Yu Saoteng (China) and two chess legends, Asia's first grandmaster Eugenio Torre (Philippines) and Asia's first World Champion Xie Jun (China).

Another initiative we are very proud of is the free workshop by our Competitions Director, Maxim Korshunov, aimed at chess organizers. Maxim joined FIDE in September last year, having previously worked at the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, the World EXPO 2015 in Milan, and the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi 2014. The workshop, which takes place between today and tomorrow, addresses topics like how to prepare operational plans, responsibility assignment matrices, how to activate a sponsorship or how to integrate activities together with local authorities. The workshop is being held on ZOOM, and late joiners are allowed. Simply contact Maxim to receive a link with the invitation: korshunov@fide.com.

Last but not least: the FIDE Arbiters' Commission has just released the Arbiters' Manual 2020. The new version contains updated regulations from the FIDE Handbook: C02 and C05, by the Technical Commission about Tournaments, and B02, by the Qualification Commission, about Rapid and Blitz rating. Structured in 12 Chapters, the topics have also been reorganized.

Online events

These are days of feverish activity for online chess platforms. Not only they are registering more casual games than ever before: many national federations have also transferred their events to the online arena, and a number of chess streamers are working around the clock.

The second leg of the Online Polish Chess Cup will be played today, at 18:00 local time, on Chess.com. The first leg of this competition, won by Karina Cyfka on March 29, reached a record participation of 2.152 players, making it one of the largest online events ever played.

Also on Chess.com, this month's Titled Tuesday was by far the biggest edition ever held, with nearly 900 titled players participating.  The line-up included top GMs Fabiano Caruana, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Hikaru Nakamura. By popular demand, Title Tuesday will be from now on a weekly competition.

The 4NCL has also stepped into the breach by organizing a massive online league competition, running from April until the end of June. An impressive total of 172 teams, 688 players, took part in 5 Divisions last week (Tuesday, April 7). The following rounds will take place at 7:30 pm every Tuesday, until June 30, on Lichess.org.

Lichess was also the scenario for the latest chapter in the incipient rivalry between Magnus Carlsen and the rising star, 16-year old Alireza Firouzja. The two players engaged in a marathon bullet match (1 minute per player, no increment), in which we saw the World Champion biting the dust after 194 games, with a 103,5 - 90,5 score in favor of the young prodigy.

These two players will face each other again on Wednesday, April 15, in the Final of the Chess24 Banter Blitz (3-minute games, no increment). This interesting event has the particularity that the two players comment on their game while it is in progress, basically thinking out loud. This clash promise to be the highlight of the week, especially after the Fischer-like performance exhibited by Carlsen in semi-finals, where he wiped out of the board 2675-rated Sanan Sjugirov, with a 9:0 score on his favor.

Three days after this match, the main event of the month will kick-off: the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, a new online tournament promoted by the World Champion himself. For two weeks, Magnus and seven other top players (including, again, the young Firouza) will battle it out for a $250,000 prize fund, with the winner guaranteed $70,000. The time control will be 15 minutes + 10 seconds increment, and Chess24 has announced that commentaries will be available in nine different languages. This is the line up:


Player FED       Age    Classical       Rapid       Blitz      
Magnus Carlsen NOR 29 2863 2881 2887
Fabiano Caruana USA 27 2835 2773 2711
Ding Liren CHN 27 2791 2836 2788
Ian Nepomniachtchi RUS 29 2784 2778 2785
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave       FRA 29 2778 2860 2822
Anish Giri NED 25 2764 2731 2752
Hikaru Nakamura USA 32 2736 2829 2900
Alireza Firouzja - 16 2728 2703 2750

Of course, FIDE is also preparing to conduct a major online event in May. The details will be published in the next newsletter.

FIDE distributes €35,000 among chess veterans 

As it was previously announced, the International Chess Federation has budgeted the sum of €50,000 for a program to support chess veterans in 2020. Combined with the decision of waiving fees to our seniors, this is FIDE's contribution towards giving back a little to those who devoted their entire life to chess.

Like in 2019, the initial plan was to allocate €20,000 to provide stipends to individual nominees, and €30,000 to increase the prize fund of the World Seniors Championship. However, due to the ongoing uncertainty created by the global spread of the new Coronavirus, we still don't know if this event will go ahead as planned, or it will have to be canceled/postponed.

In view of these uncertainties, the dedicated panel working on the assignment by FIDE Council found advisable to redistribute this amount, allocating a record total amount of €35,000 directly to stipends. The general consensus was that this was much needed in these difficult times.

After carefully considering the numerous applications received, it was decided that these will be the 17 chess players, coaches, and promoters who will benefit from FIDE's support:


Alexander Nikitin (RUS) Heikki Westerinen (FIN)
Viktor Zheliandinov (UKR) Vlastimil Jansa (CZE)
Evgeni Melikset-Begi (GEO) Gabriela Olarasu (ROM)
Viacheslav Dydyshko (BLR) Qi Jingxuan (CHN)
Yaacov Zilberman (ISR) Slim Bouaziz (TUN)
Gerry Walsh (ENG) Boris Itkis (MLD/ROM)
Lyudmila Belavenets (RUS) Jesus Gonzales Bayolo (CUB)
Dmitry Kayumov (UZB) Lhamsuren Myagmarsuren (MGL)
Emmanuel Omuku (NGR)  

Apart from this financial help, over the past few days we paid tribute to these illustrious veterans, dedicating some social media posts to them. In our website, you can also find some brief biographical texts about some of them.

Read more on the FIDE website... 

Photo: NASA

International Day of Human Space Flight:
Chess in outer space

Yesterday the world celebrated the International Day of Human Space Flight, held on April 12 to commemorate the first space flight by Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. Chess was one of the very first human leisure activities brought to space by the cosmonauts. In June 1970 the Soviet astronauts Andrian Nikolayev and Vitaly Sevastyanov (who would become President of the Russian Chess Federation), played a consultation game from the Soyuz 9 against their colleagues on Earth. Sevastyanov and Nikolayev spent 18 days in space, a record at the time. Their mission was used to investigate the social and psychological implications of prolonged spaceflight.

The strong links between chess and the space exploration demonstrate that this game -and other strategy games- are intrinsic to humankind. They are part of our culture, and one of the oldest forms of human social interaction. 

Read more on the FIDE website...

Happy birthday, Garry Kimovich!

On this day in 1963, Garry Kasparov was born in Baku. Considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, he ruled the chess world for almost twenty years, setting a number of records during his career. He was the youngest World Champion ever, at 22, and he announced his retirement at 42, when he was still the highest-ranked player in the world. In fact, he topped the ranking list for 225 out of 228 months from 1986, until his retirement in 2005. His peak rating of 2851, achieved in 1999, was the highest recorded until being surpassed by Magnus Carlsen in 2013.

But the cold figures, as impressive as they are, always fail to describe the emotions. During his prolific career, Kasparov gave us some of the finest examples of dominant and beautiful chess ever played. And what makes him stand out above other champions are the worthy rivals he fought over the board: first, his arch-rival Anatoly Karpov, then the "man VS machine" challenge in the late nineties, and finally, his encounters against representatives of a younger generation: Anand and Kramnik.

Kasparov shares a birthday with another prominent Baku-related person, the IA Faiq Gasanov, who turned 80 today. Some other distinguished chess personalities born in April are Efim Bogoljubov (14th), Alexandra Kosteniuk and Anthony Miles (23rd), and John Nunn (25th).

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