Welcome to the FIDE newsletter

Welcome to the #9 issue of the new FIDE Newsletter. In this edition, we go through the main decisions of the FIDE Council meeting, which included the approval of the Online Olympiad, and some important changes to the structure and the composition of the FIDE Commissions. If you are interested in the Rules of Chess, or the Swiss-Manager software, we also have something for you. Lastly, we tell the story of two kids for whom their chess talent became a lifeline to a better life.



FIDE presents the Online Olympiad 2020

It was heartbreaking to see one chess event after another being canceled due to the global pandemic, and it came as no surprise that the biggest of them all, the Chess Olympiad, also had to be postponed. Involving more than 3,000 people coming from all the corners of the world, the Chess Olympiad is the biggest celebration of chess, and one of our oldest traditions. In fact, the Olympiad precedes FIDE itself: our organization was founded on Sunday, July 20, 1924, during the closing day of the so-called "Paris Chess Olympic Games".

We will have to wait until the summer of 2021 to see each other in Moscow, but no virus will stop us from playing the Online Olympiad 2020: a new major competition, to be held between July 22nd and August 30th. Maybe not the Olympiad we all wanted, but it is a worthy replacement, and very likely, the most important online event of the year. Maybe we are witnessing the beginning of a new centenary tradition?

The Online Olympiad is also a national teams event in which all federations affiliated to FIDE have the right to participate. But there are three main differences with respect to its "over the board" equivalent:

1) As it is customary in online events, the time control will be rapid, with 15 minutes + 5 seconds increment per move.

2) Each team will consist of six players, in a mixed format with a minimum of three female players and two junior players. Specifically, each team must include:

- at least 1 player U-20 (born in 2000 or later)
- at least 2 women
- at least 1 girl U-20 (born in 2000 or later)

3) The event will consist of two stages: the “Divisions stage”, and the Play-offs stage, from Round of 16 to the final.

Since the Online Olympiad is a mixed event, for pairing purposes the ranking will be established in accordance with the final standings of the last “Gaprindashvili Cup”, which combines the results in the open and women’s sections at the Batumi Chess Olympiad 2018.

The National Federations are currently preparing the line-ups of their teams, and the registration process is already open. The deadline is July 13th, and all seeded divisions' teams will be announced on July 18, 2020.

You can find more details on the FIDE website.

Main decisions of the FIDE Council meeting

As it is the norm now, the 2nd quarter FIDE Council Meeting was held online, on 23 June 2020. In fact, one of the first and main decisions to be approved during the meeting was the confirmation that the FIDE General Assembly, scheduled for the end of November 2020, will also be held online. This possibility had already been discussed in the previous FIDE Council meeting, on May 12. Back then, Mr. Roberto Rivello, Chairman of the Constitutional Commission, was asked to put together a contingency plan to implement electronic voting.

Among the main decisions were the final approval of the dates for the 2020 Online Olympiad, and to give a green light to some other new online competitions: a top event for juniors, cadet, and seniors, and a World Bullet Chess Championship.

On the other hand, it was approved that all the remaining 2020 competitions under the control of the Events Commission are postponed to 2021 (except World Amateur 2020); all the EVE competitions for 2021 are moved to 2022; and the bidding procedure of 2023 events will be done in 2021. Please note that these postponements do not affect the World Cup 2021 or the Grand Prix, since these events are not supervised by the EVE Commission.

The Council plans to make a final decision on the dates and location of the second part of the FIDE Candidates tournament 2020 during July 2020. Resuming the competition in a host country other than Russia is one of the possibilities that is being explored.

Regarding the World Championship match, the plan is still to hold it in Dubai in connection with the World Expo, with two possible dates: in spring, as a prelude to the Expo, or in autumn, during the first weeks of the World Expo. FIDE will continue monitoring the situation and considering the pros and cons of both scenarios.

A delicate point is the situation affecting the All India Chess Federation, where two factions claim to be the legitimate representatives of Indian chess – both of them backed by different governmental authorities. The FIDE President offered to mediate and received the approval of the Council to arrange a conference call with both parties, trying to establish an agreement that would allow AICF to function until the situation is clarified.

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


Changes in the FIDE Commissions

There have been some changes to the FIDE Commissions that we would like to share with you. The more important ones are the creation of the Athletes Commission and the liquidation of the Online Commission.

The purpose of the Athletes Commission is to enable the players' voices and experiences to be heard and used for the improvement of chess as a sport. Involving athletes in the decision-making process is a core component of good governance within sports organizations, allowing them to provide early feedback on potential decisions that will affect them. This peer-to-peer cooperation helps to safeguard the credibility of the sport.

The figure of an Athletes Commission is common among members and stakeholders of the Olympic movement, like other International Federations (IFs), National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), or the Organizing Committees of the Olympic Games (COCGs).

The ATH Commission will be constituted as an elective body: this means that, instead of being appointed, the athletes' representatives will be nominated through an electoral process. FIDE is currently establishing a panel that will prepare the Athletes Commission electoral regulations and procedures.
Regarding the Online Commission, it became patently obvious from early on that many of the tasks initially assigned to this body were an integral part of FIDE's daily functioning. At this point, liquidating this body and assimilating its functions as part of FIDE's IT department felt like a needed adjustment. Its chairman, Ilya Gorodetsky, will remain as the head of FIDE's online activities.

As for the rest of the members, we would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank them for their will to contribute. Two of the already existing FIDE commissions will also see a change of leadership. Paris Klerides, a six-time Cyprus Chess Champion, has been appointed as the new chairperson of the Social Commission (SC). Sonja Johnson, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Chess Association, who has been serving as the Secretary of the Planning and Development Commission (PDC), will now be its chairperson.

We also welcome the 23 new members of the FIDE commissions. Some of the newly appointed members are respected specialists in their field with good knowledge and experience. We are happy to resume the fruitful collaboration with Susan Polgar and Uwe Boensch in the Trainers Commission, and Robert Katende in the Social Commission.
IA Stephane Escafre, Councilor of the Rules Commission. Photo: D. Llada

Do you have any questions about the Laws of chess?

The Laws of Chess are the universal foundation of our sport, and the knowledge and understanding of these Laws is essential to play at any level.

Within the FIDE family, the Rules Commission is the "legislative body": they are in charge of developing the Laws.

Now the Rules Commission also wants to be more actively involved in explaining the Laws and their interpretation, and they would like to invite the chess community to send their questions to them. Whether you are player, arbiter, trainer, or a mere chess aficionado, you can send your doubts and comments to the Rules Commission. The International Arbiter Stephane Escafre, FIDE Lecturer, and Councilor of the Rules Commission will answer them on a new section within their website http://rcc.fide.com.

You can send your questions director to Stephane at stephane.escafre@fide.com, and he will select the most interesting ones to be answered in a post, on a regular basis.
IA Tania Kareli from Greece. Photo: Niki Riga

Swiss-Manager manual and online course

In the last issue of our newsletter, we wrote about the origins of the Swiss system, and how it took a few years to its creator to come up with the final version of his pairings system. Nowadays, dedicated software programs have made the task of elaborating pairings much easier. One of the main tools for an arbiter is the program Swiss-Manager: developed by Heinz Herzog, this software is FIDE approved, and according to this article by Chessbase India, it has generated more than 600,000 tournament files.

One of our International Arbiters, Tania Karali from Greece, has created an extensive manual that covers all the functions of the Swiss-Manager. The result of her work is a 51-page document, probably the most thorough tutorial on Swiss-Manager ever made so far. Tania made this manual completely free and the PDF document can be downloaded from this link.

Download the Swiss-Manager manual

¿Hablas español? For those of you who speak Spanish, this week the Colombian Chess Federation has planned an online course for Swiss Manager too. The webinar, totaling 20 hours, will be given by the FIDE Arbiter Andres Rodriguez from July 10 to 18, five days, four hours a day. More information: www.fecodaz.com
Ushenina and Gunina lead the Women's Speed Chess GP

The FIDE Chess.com Women's Speed Chess Championship reached its halfway point this weekend, after the second of the four Grand Prix tournaments was played.

It is clear by now that two of the players who earned their spot going through the qualification tournaments are the ones in better shape: Anna Ushenina and Valentina Gunina have reached the final on both occasions, and they are on top of the leaderboard, with 20 GP points each.

Ushenina, who was the classical World Champion in 2012-13, won the first leg after defeating Gunina 7-4 in the final. The Ukrainian outplayed her opponent and took the control of most games already from the opening.

The tables turned when the two same players happened to reach again the final of the second Grand Prix. It seemed history would repeat itself, since Ushenina took the lead in the first games. But Gunina outclassed her opponent in the bullet games, leaving the score 7-5 in her favor. "I was so focused and so nervous in the match, that it feels like if everything had happened in just one minute", said Gunina in the post-match interview.

Play will resume on Wednesday, when the third leg (July 8-12) will kick-off. Ushenina and Gunina won't cross swords again unless they both qualify to the Superfinal, since the Ukrainian will sit out in the third leg, while the Russian will do it in the fourth and last.

Please note that from July 10-12 the games will start at 13:30 CEST instead of 14:30, due to scheduling conflicts.

More information at www.chess.com/article/view/2020-fide-women-speed-chess-championship

Rising Stars Match

Not long ago, two young prodigies hit the headlines worldwide, not only for being two of the most gifted chess players in their generation, but also because of their personal stories. Shreyas Royal, who lived in the UK since he was 3 years old, was on the edge of being expelled from the country in September 2018, when his father's work visa came to an end. Only the last-minute intervention and “personal decision” of the Home Secretary Sajid Javid allowed Shreyas to stay in the UK.

One year later, the inspiring story of Tani Adewumi (pictured below) went viral. His family escaped persecution from Boko Haram in Nigeria and settled into a New York City homeless shelter. They were struggling to start a new life. But barely one year after their arrival to the States, the 8-year-old refugee would become state champion, winning a trophy that also meant a new life for him and his family, after the media got interested in his story.

The two chess prodigies faced off on June 25, both proudly representing their respective countries of adoption. Their match was a prelude of the "UK vs. USA Rising Stars Chess Match", organized by ChessKid and Chess in Schools and Communities. This is a continuation of Malcolm Pein's joint project with CSC and ChessKid to get one million kids in the UK playing chess.

The main event took place on Sunday, June 28, 2020, and UK and USA tied 10-10, which means USA wins thanks to the "draw odds" earned by Tani when he defeated Shreyas in the tie-break of their match. As Mike Klein put it, “the two may live thousands of miles apart but they share one common thread: they are both immigrant success stories thanks to their chess acumen”.

"Overcoming life’s basic truth: Talent is universal, but opportunity is not"

According to Nicholas Kristof, one of the New York Times star columnists, what makes the stories of these kids exceptional and inspiring is that "they overcome one of life’s basic truths: talent is universal, but opportunity is not". Nicholas, who is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, devoted two lengthy articles to the success of Tani: "This 8-Year-Old Chess Champion Will Make You Smile" and "Our Chess Champion Has a Home".
Nihal Sarin, at the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss. Photo: David Llada

Kids are turning into teenagers, and with that, they threaten to take the chess world by storm. Nihal Sarin achieved the Grandmaster title at the age of 14 years, 1 month, and 1 day. But it was shortly after, when he crossed the 2600 mark while still being 14, that he truly shocked the chess world; he was the third-youngest player in history to accomplish that feat.

The rising Indian star will turn 16 next week, on Monday, July 13. The kid who won the World under-10 Championship in Durban (South Africa) is steadily turning into a world-class player. Some people compare Sarin with Smyslov, because of the harmony in his play; he displays an elegant style, making always the right positional decisions in a very intuitive way. But he is also a razor-sharp tactician when given the chance. "Nihal's restlessness earned him the title of 'the boy who never sits!'", wrote Sagar Shah, of Chessbase India. "Well, we have now officially changed it to "the boy who never stops!"

Two of the greatest creative players of recent times will also celebrate their birthdays within the next two weeks: Ian Nepomniachtchi (30, on July 14), and Alexander Morozevich (43, on July 18). Both of them are among the most charismatic Grandmasters, admired by fans, and for very good reasons. If you feel like watching some fireworks, here you have two suggestions.

One recent game: Ian Nepomniachtchi - Anish Giri, game one from their third mini-match at the recent "Chessable Masters" tournament, July 2020.

And one not-so-recent game: Alexander Morozevich –Veselin Topalov, 5th round of the Pamplona Tournament, 1994.

Enjoy them!
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