Welcome to the FIDE newsletter

Welcome to the #10 issue of the new FIDE Newsletter. Due to the number of important events happening around International Chess Day, this newsletter is being released later than usual, and it is almost a monothematic issue dedicated to this celebration. However, you will also find a brief report on the Women's Speed Chess Championship, won by Anna Ushenina in an spectacular super final against Alexandra Kosteniuk. 



United Nations: "Chess for recovering better"

The virtual meeting between the United Nations and FIDE on the occasion of the International Chess Day was held on July 20. Top chess personalities and representatives of the U.N. gathered to exchange views and insights to strengthen the productive collaboration.

In his welcoming speech, H.E. Mr. Mher Margaryan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations, nodded to the chess movement's success in Armenia where the game is a part of the schools' curriculum. "Lessons offered by chess are important in teaching such values as respect for rules and players, fairness, equality, and discipline. Chess is essentially about progress and continuous quest for improvement with effort and decency," he said.

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich thanked the United Nations for their support and noted that "together, we can make chess a tool to improve the world and create better societies."

Melissa Ruth Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, was very positive about the opportunities that chess brings to communities and individuals. "Today is the celebration of the intellectual game that for centuries has also managed to entertain, to stimulate and sometimes even to confound billions of us over the world," she said.
Top chess grandmasters present at the meeting, Anand, Hou Yifan, Kramnik and Aronian, shared the valuable insights into the abilities and life lessons that chess taught them. Anand dived into the history of chess, while Hou Yifan concentrated on the psychological aspects of the game and women empowerment issues. Kramnik mentioned that scientific studies had proved the benefits of the game for kids.

"No matter how good you are at chess, you are going to lose games. The ability to cope with negative emotions is one of the best things I learned from chess," said Levon Aronian.

Various issues and aspects of the development of chess were discussed in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. This meeting laid the foundation for further fruitful cooperation between FIDE and the United Nations.

The whole meeting was recorded and it is available on the Youtube FIDE channel:

Meeting FIDE - United Nations (20-7-2020)
International Chess Day

The recognition by the United Nations, approved in December 2019, has been the final endorsement to the "International Chess Day", which is now a more than established tradition.

This year, FIDE's campaign consisted of asking chess fans from all around the world to teach one person how to play chess, with the aim to bring new players to the game. The idea received a warm welcome, especially among our friends in Africa and the Americas, and we are confident that there are many more chess players today than a few days ago.

A beautiful initiative was the one launched by the Chess Club Hammam-Lif, in Tunisia. Starting on Sunday, they decided to celebrate International Chess Day by offering chess lessons to passers-by at the Hammam-Lif train station, in collaboration with the Tunisian National Railways Company.

Another fine initiative was the one by Belarus Chess Federation. In line with FIDE's campaign, they invited young football players from the Dynamo Brest Academy, and hockey players from BFSO “Dynamo”, to receive a chess course.
These young sportsmen learned the importance of concentration, strategic thinking, and mental discipline. The coach also stressed the value of taking responsibility for the decisions they make. We hope they can transfer this knowledge to their daily life and the playing field!

A lot of people celebrated International Chess Day in its own way, and if you check the hashtag #InternationalChessDay (or #WorldChessDay) you will find plenty of interesting posts. The day was massively followed by museums, libraries, private schools, and radio stations from all over the world. It became one of the hottest "trending topics" of the day in several countries, so some big companies tried to catch the wave and used the hashtag to gain visibility for their brand.

Here you have a few selected posts, and this week we will compile the nicest ones on our website.
IOC President Thomas Bach. PHOTO: IOC / Alexander Hassenstein
We would like to thank IOC President Thomas Bach for the kind letter he sent to FIDE on the occasion of the International Chess Day and the First Online Chess Olympiad, that we reproduce here in full:
Anna Ushenina wins the Women's Speed Chess Championship

Anna Ushenina (Ukraine) became the winner of the Women’s Speed Championship. In a dramatic Super Final that was decided in the last bullet game, the former Women’s World Champion defeated the reigning European Blitz Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk 14.5-13.5.

After two first stages of Women's Speed Chess Championship, titled Swiss tournaments and playoff qualifiers, twelve players from ten countries made it past the qualification filter and joined nine seeded players nominated by FIDE and chess.com  in the WSCC Grand Prix. The Grand Prix stage consisted of four legs, four knockout tournaments with each of 21 players taking part in three of them. Two best participants of Grand Prix scoring most points met in the WSCC Super Final.

After the first three legs, Anna Ushenina emerged as a leader with solid 22 points but did not guarantee herself a spot in the Super Final and had to wait for the results of the final leg. Several players had a chance to overcome the leader but it was Alexandra Kosteniuk who won the final leg to face-off with Ushenina in the Super Final. In this marathon duel full of twists and turns the opponents proved to be worthy of each other. During the 5+1 part, Kosteniuk was slightly more precise and cool-headed at the critical moments - especially in time scramble - and pulled ahead 5.5-3.5.

Known as an expert in faster time controls, Ushenina showed her prowess in the 3+1 portion of the match. The Ukrainian stormed back by winning three straight games and took the lead, but Kosteniuk recovered from the shock and leveled the score going into the final 1+1 stage.

The final portion of this clash turned into a real thriller. After Ushenina shot ahead by two points with just about twelve minutes remaining on the clock many may have thought that it was all over for the Russian. However, Alexandra reeled off two straight wins to even the score once again. It came down to the wire in the end as the victory in the final see-saw bullet game tipped the scale in favor of Ushenina.

“I tried to play solid chess because Alexandra is a very good player. I know that she is very strong in sharp, tactical positions and likes to attack, so I tried to avoid that… I am really happy to win the title”, said the champion in a short interview after the match.

The games of the Women's Speed Chess Championship were played on Chess.com, and all matches were broadcast live with chess-master commentary on www.Chess.com/TV.
Birthplace of FIDE. PHOTO: Google Maps

On this day in 1924, FIDE was born in Paris. This is hardly news to any chess lover, since the echoes of our birthday celebrations still resound on social media. But, where exactly was our Federation born, and who were its parents?

FIDE was born at the Town Hall of the IX Arrondissement of Paris (6 Rue Drouot). This building is located a 2-min walk from the Richelieu-Drouot metro station and the Musée Grévin.

As you probably know, that summer Paris was hosting the 1924 Summer Olympics, and a group of very determined men who truly loved chess decided to organize an important event alongside the Olympic Games: the first international team chess tournament, which is considered the first "unofficial" Chess Olympiad. This tournament was held at the "Hotel Majestic", now known as "The Peninsula".

Among these men, there were two key figures. One was the secretary of the French Chess Federation, Pierre Vincent, who is described by "The Swiss Chess Review" as "the devoted and tireless secretary who was the initiator and soul of the tournament". The other one was the world-champion-to-be, Alexander Alekhine, who back then was living in Paris under the status of "stateless refugee".
Pierre Vincent. PHOTO: January 1926 issue of L’Echiquier.
On 20 July, the last day of the games, 15 delegates from all over the World signed the proclamation act of what was originally known as "Fédération Internationale des Échecs" or "FIE" (shortly after the acronym was changed to "FIDE").

These were the 15 founding signatories:
  • Ignacio de Peñalver y Zamora (1857-1933) of Spain.
  • Florenziano Marusi (1860-1936) of Milan, Italy.
  • Francis Hooper Rawlins (1861-1925) of Bath, England.
  • Steven Francis Smith (1861-1928) of British Columbia, Canada.
  • Anatol A. Tscherpurnoff (1871-1942) of Helsinki, Finland.
  • Marc Nicolet (1876-1942) of Biel, Switzerland.
  • Jakov Ovadija (1878-1941) of Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
  • Pierre Vincent (1878-1956) of France.
  • Alexander Rueb (1882-1959) of The Hague, Holland.
  • Istvan Abonyi (1886-1942) of Budapest, Hungary.
  • Leon Willem Weltjens (1887-1975) of Anvers, Belgium.
  • Ion Gudju (1897- 1988) of Bucharest, Romania.
  • Karel Skalička (1896-1979) of Prague, Czechoslovakia.
  • Izaak Towbin (1899-1941) of Korets, Poland.
  • Roberto Gabriel Grau (1900-1944) of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Attendants to the first FIDE Congress, Paris 1924.

Alexander Rueb, President of the Dutch Federation, was appointed as the first FIDE President. By profession, he was a lawyer at the Dutch Supreme Court and diplomat. As a player, he was a mere amateur, and not particularly strong, but he wrote books on endgame studies and he was a passionate collector of chess books (his collection is now in the library of the University of Amsterdam).

Dr. Rueb served as president of Fide for 25 years, from 1924 to 1949, and you can find more information about his life in this article.
Mikhail Botvinnik and Alexander Rueb.
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