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Welcome to the FIDE newsletter

Welcome to the new FIDE Newsletter. Published bi-weekly, this newsletter aims to provide you with relevant information about happenings within our organization, and the member chess federations. Not only will you find information about current FIDE events, but we will also share with you the main decisions, case studies, and inspiring stories.

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Checkmate Coronavirus: week one

The Checkmate Coronavirus initiative is in full swing, as it enters its second week of activity. We are very grateful for the warm welcome that the chess community has given to this project, with special mention all those to have contributed to its success. First and foremost our partners at Chess.com, Lichess.org, Chess24, FIDE Online Arena, and Playchess. Secondly to the many National Federations that have already organized events within the Checkmate Coronavirus project: so far, the list includes the European Chess Union, Colombia, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Greece, Japan, Mongolia, Qatar, Romania, Syria, Uruguay, and Venezuela, but the number keeps growing by the day. We are also very grateful to the many private organizers who have enthusiastically made their contribution. And last but not least, thank you to the dedicated team who has been running this project, headed by Ilya Gorodetsky

One week and 170 hours into the project, a total of 520 chess online tournaments have been organized as a part of this initiative, with an average of 261 participants each. This amounts to an approximate total of half a million chess games played, and 74 tournaments per day. These numbers are already slightly above our initial expectations, so we hope to reach new heights as we are now reaching cruise speed.

If you want to be a part of this celebration of chess, you can still do it. On our website, you can find instructions on how to join the initiative. There is also a FAQ section at the dedicated website for Checkmate Coronavirus, with some additional information. And if you simply want to be a participant in one of the events, please check out our complete schedule of events.

As the FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich explained in his letter addressed to all of you, this project wants "to promote the ideals of unity and solidarity which must be manifested in such times", apart from providing "a creative outlet to those who have to spend many hours at home" under the global lockdown. We believe that both goals are being fulfilled, and we are very proud of how we, the whole chess community, have stood together in these proving times.
Carlsen and Lagno take titles in Steinitz Memorial

Magnus Carlsen brought the FIDE Online Steinitz Memorial to a fitting end with a crushing win in the inaugural event held to honor his predecessor. The 16th World Champion’s performance echoed the dominance of the first undisputed king of chess, Austrian great Wilhelm Steinitz, as he waltzed to victory.

In the Women's Section, Kateryna Lagno secured the first place after a final day full of drama, that forced her to take the title on a bizarre Armageddon tiebreak. The Russian kept her cool as her play-off with Lei Tingjie went to a marathon 152 moves. The Chinese player, with the white pieces and forced to win, tried to flag her opponent but failed.

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich praised the quality of play and the consistency of the top players. "No matter whether it's online or offline: the same guys win the tournaments!", he said. "We've witnessed a fantastic event with so many dramas," added star commentator Peter Leko. A complete report is available on the FIDE website.

These are busy times for the World Champion: after a first successful experience with the Magnus Invitational, his brainchild has now turned into a full-fledged chess tour, with three more events (one of them, in play right now) that will be followed by a Grand Final, on August 9-20.

 
FIDE held the first Online Cup for People with Disabilities

This new event was an invitational tournament that brought together 38 participants, representing 28 countries. It was played under a five-round Swiss system, with a time control of 10'+5", and it was held on Playchess.com.

Before the start of the event, the two highest-rated players Marcin Tazbir (Poland) and Sander Severino (Philippines) were considered to be the main favorites. Eventually, they finished with 4.5 points each, with the Polish Grandmaster taking the title thanks to better tiebreaks.

WIM Natasha Morales Santos from Puerto Rico was the best among women, scoring 3/5 like Handenur Sahin and Annegret Mucha, but with a better tiebreak. Natasha is a Puerto Rican National Women’s Champion, who plays the top board for her country at the Chess Olympiads.

 


First online meeting of the FIDE Council

The first meeting of the newly established FIDE Council was held online on May 12. For the first time, both Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun and World Champion Magnus Carlsen (represented by his father Henrik) participated in the meeting.

One of the main topics was the approval of the revised FIDE budget for 2020 as proposed by the Management Board, having been adjusted to the new situation. The Council also officially approved the shifting of the 2020 Chess Olympiad to the next year, 2021, keeping the same locations in Russia and within the same time frame, as it had been already announced on March 24th, 2020.

The Council was informed that FIDE received a bid for the 2024 Olympiad from the Hungarian Chess Federation. The documents included detailed information about the plans and initial preparations, while formal inspections will be conducted as soon as the situation allows. Likewise, the Argentinian Chess Federation provided FIDE with a letter of intent to bid for the Olympiad, with a promise to present the whole package with official guarantees by September 2020.

The possibility of organizing an online 2020 General Assembly was also discussed by the Council. To be prepared for such eventuality, Mr. Roberto Rivello, Chairman of the Constitutional Commission, was assigned with the task of developing a plan to implement electronic voting. 

The Council approved the creation of the Athletes’ Commission, as well as the liquidation of the Online Commission under the condition that a clear operational framework is established in order to manage and support all FIDE online activities. The Council acknowledged the decisions by the President to appoint the new Chairs for the Planning and Development Commission and the Social Commission.

A complete list of decisions and topics discussed during the meeting is available at the FIDE website.

 

Continents go online

The first Iberoamerican Online Chess Championship kicks off today, with a field that includes 60 grandmasters, as well as the strongest female chess players from the 23 countries that are members of the Iberoamerican Chess Federation (FIBDA). The Spaniards Francisco Vallejo (2710) and David Anton (2703) are the top seeds, followed by Jorge Cori (PER, 2652), Alexei Shirov (ESP, 2647), Lazaro Bruzon (CUB, 2644), and the Argentinians Alan Pichot (2630) and Sandro Mareco (2629).

This is the strongest-ever lineup in the history of Iberoamerican Chess. The tournament, organized by the Spanish Chess Federation (FEDA), will be played on Chess24, under a time control of 3'+2".


The European Online Chess Championship 2020 is underway. This competition is structured in five groups by Elo rating: Group A (1000-1400), Group B (1401-1700), Group C (1701-2000), Group D (2001-2300), and Group E (+2300).

The first three groups have already determined a winner:

 
  Total players: Winner:
Group A 1634 Sezgin Mustafa
Group B 982 Stalmach Richard
Group C 989  
Group D 730  
Group E 342  

The field for the top group, with 342 players registered, includes 159 GMs and 138 IMs, from 39 different countries. Among them, Ivan Cheparinov (BUL, 2686), Pavel Eljanov (UKR, 2672), Hrant Melkumyan (ARM, 2663), Rauf Mamedov (AZE, 2654), and Grigory Oparin (RUS, 2652).

The tournament, organized by the European Chess Union, is played under rapid time control (10'+2"), and hosted by Chess.com.

The African Chess Confederation (ACC) recently announced it will be holding a series of Online Chess Matches starting in May 2020, both in individual and team events. To kick start the games, on May 10 they held the first tournament, planned as a "general rehearsal", with no prize fund attached.

The event, held on Lichess.org, was a great success, attracting a total of 1377 players. The winner was FM Joseph Mwale (Malawi), followed by Keith Khumalo (South Africa). The details for upcoming events will be announced shortly.


"We are all children of Informant"

This weekend, Serbian Grandmaster Aleksandar Matanovic turned 90. A three-time Yugoslav Champion, he was one of the strongest non-soviet chess players of his time, topping the table of many international tournaments in the second half of the '50s and first half of the '60s.

However, his main contribution to chess would come in 1966 when, together with Milivoje Molerović, he founded "Šahovski Informator". Their ambition was to provide the rest of the world with "the sort of access to chess information only enjoyed by Soviet players", but very soon they overcame their own expectations and the fruit of their work surpassed anything that had been done before. Chess Informant managed to publish high-quality analysis in a timely manner, raising the standards of chess publications to a whole new level. "The games were not just 'collected', but annotated by the best chess players in the world. In order to launch such an ambitious project, it took both authority, knowledge, and energy. All of these were distinctive qualities of Matanovich", points out FIDE Director-General, Emil Sutovsky.

But Matanovic was a true pioneer, and as such he came up with two important innovations. The first one was to create the "ECO", a system of codes for the classification of chess openings. And the second one was a sort of "chess Esperanto": a whole system of symbols that allowed chess annotations to be read and understood by anyone, regardless of the language they spoke. This code allowed Chess Informant to expand and effectively communicate chess information across language barriers.

Both innovations were soon universally adopted, and by 2017, the company had sold three million books in 150 countries. For almost three decades Chess Informant was, indisputably, the most popular chess publication in the world. As Kasparov famously put it, "we are all children of Informator". Matanovic was so ahead of his time that when the first chess database software appeared, decades later, it also followed Informator's codes for openings and notations.

Matanovic served as editor-in-chief for more than 20 years, and he retired around 2000. Chess Informant has announced plans for a jubilee tournament to be held, online, around June 5th.


Anniversaries

On this day in 1868, Dawid Markelowicz Janowski was born in Vawkavysk, a small ancient town in Belarus - then part of the Russian Empire. He was one of the world's best players at the beginning of the 20th century, and a sharp tactician who could play really fast. "When in form, he was one of the most feared opponents who can exist", said of him Capablanca. Some of his attacking games are true masterpieces, with the use of the bishop pair as his personal trademark.

The upcoming birthdays for the next two weeks include the 2017 Women's World Champion Tan Zhongyi, who will turn 29 on May 29. Her teammates at the Chinese National team Ni Hua and Wei Yi will also celebrate their birthdays, on May 31 and June 2 respectively.

The Indian prodigy Dommaraju Gukesh will celebrate his 14th birthday on May 29, and a former child prodigy and world title challenger, Gata Kamsky, will turn 46 on June 2.

Last but not least, two of our colleagues, FIDE Vice-President Nigel Short and FIDE International Director Mohd Al-Mudahka, will both celebrate their birthday on the first day of June.

 

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