Welcome to the FIDE newsletter

Welcome to the #8 issue of the new FIDE Newsletter. In this edition, we include a brief report on FIDE’s Checkmate Coronavirus initiative, as well as an update on FIDE’s Women's Speed Chess Championship. We also present you with news from National Federations and some interesting articles on other aspects of chess.



Chess vs Coronavirus: 1-0, Checkmate!

No other international sports federation and no other official organized sports event, has ever reached the numbers achieved this past month by FIDE’s Checkmate Coronavirus initiative. 520,000 entries, 120,000 unique participants from at least 140 countries in a marathon of 720 non-stop hours, and 2,762 tournaments. These staggering numbers, unprecedented and unthinkable for any sport, speak for themselves.  Never before has FIDE or anyone else done so much, for so many in such a short time.

The message of unity and solidarity was strongly endorsed. 20% of all Grandmasters and 10% of all FIDE titled players joined their forces saying “Checkmate Coronavirus”. Some top GMs like Ding Liren, Anish Giri, Wang Hao, Peter Svidler, David Navara, and four Women’s World Champions, Hou Yifan, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Antoaneta Stefanova, and Tan Zhongyi, were among the many chess professionals who honored the project with their presence. The unity of the chess world was showcased by thousands of youngsters and amateur players who had a chance not only to win the prizes but also to test their skills against very strong opponents. More than 60 national federations and two associations affiliated with FIDE, organized their own tournaments which were included in the project. And we also want to express our gratitude to the online platforms, Lichess.org, Chess.com, Chess24.com, and FIDE Online Arena: this project wouldn't have been possible without their help and contribution. 

The aftermath of Checkmate Coronavirus promises to be no less exciting than the chess battles in its tournaments. In July-September, top GMs will be giving masterclasses and play mini-matches with Checkmate Coronavirus winners. Very soon, more than 800 souvenir prize winners will get their FIDE Checkmate Coronavirus memorabilia. The 64 main prize winners are looking forward to visiting the 2021 Moscow Olympiad. And most certainly, we all wait for yet another great online chess initiative, which will unite us once again.

(This is a shortened version of the post-event wrap-up article that was published yesterday at the dedicated website for Checkmate Coronavirus. You can read the full-length version at this link)
Women's Speed Chess Championship

The Women's Speed Chess Championship is about to advance to its second stage. The fifth of the six Qualifier Swiss tournaments is played today, and by tomorrow evening we will have the names of the 21 players who will take part in the Grand Prix stage.

1 Hou Yifan CHN Nominated by FIDE / Chess.com)
2 Humpy Koneru IND Nominated by FIDE / Chess.com)
3 Ju Wenjun CHN Nominated by FIDE / Chess.com)
4 Kateryna Lagno RUS Nominated by FIDE / Chess.com)
5 Alexandra Kosteniuk RUS Nominated by FIDE / Chess.com)
6 Anna Muzychuk UKR Nominated by FIDE / Chess.com)
7 Irina Krush USA Nominated by FIDE / Chess.com)
8 Zhansaya Abdumalik  KAZ Nominated by FIDE / Chess.com)
9 Sara Khademalsharieh IRI Nominated by FIDE / Chess.com
10 Kaiyu Ning CHN Qualified via Swiss Tournament I
11 Anna Ushenina UKR Qualified via Swiss Tournament I
12 Pham Le Thao Nguyen VIE Qualified via Swiss Tournament II
13 Turmunkh Munkhzul MON Qualified via Swiss Tournament II
14 Gunay Mammadzada AZE Qualified via Swiss Tournament III
15 Harika Dronavalli IND Qualified via Swiss Tournament III
16 Bibisara Assaubayeva KAZ Qualified via Swiss Tournament IV
17 Olga Girya RUS Qualified via Swiss Tournament IV
18 TBC   Qualified via Swiss Tournament V
19 TBC   Qualified via Swiss Tournament V
20 TBC   Qualified via Swiss Tournament VI
21 TBC   Qualified via Swiss Tournament VI

Each of the 21 players participates in three out of four Grand Prix legs. Each Grand Prix leg is a 16-players Play-Off and will last five days (including one rest day after the semi-finals). The dates will be June 24-28, July 01-05, July 08-12, and July 15-19.

All matches in each Grand Prix leg are divided into three segments: 30-minute segment of matches with time control 5 minutes + 1 second per move; 30-minute segment of matches with time control 3 minutes + 1 second per move; 10-minute segment of matches with time control 1 minute + 1 second per move. In each Grand Prix leg, every player scores GP cumulative points according to her position in the standings (for details, please check full tournament regulations).

The two players who score the most number of GP cumulative points in all three Grand Prix legs qualify for WSCC Super Final. Each one of the Grand Prix legs has a total prize fund of 10,300 USD, with 3,000 going to the winner.
Chess in Togo. PHOTO: www.ftde.org

Short news from National Federations

First of all, we would like to congratulate our colleagues of the Togolese Chess Federation on the launching of their new website: www.ftde.org. The site includes complete information about their activities, documents, and an archive with all their monthly bulletins. Founded in 2003, the FTDE became a member of FIDE in 2012, and it is currently headed by our colleague Noel Fumey, who is also a member of the FIDE Council. We are always happy to see the national federations reinforcing their online presence: if you are launching a new social media profile, a website, or a newsletter, please let us know via our email socialmedia@fide.com, and we will do our best to promote it.
Online tournament organized by Trinidad and Tobago Chess Federation
From Togo we go to Trinidad and Tobago, where the TTCA hosted an interesting online event on June 13, aimed at Under 18 players rated under 1800. Initially, it received the rather unambitious name of "First Regional Online Chess Championship". But the initiative was enthusiastically welcomed, and in less than a week it had turned into an international, all-Caribbean championship with 173 players from 14 different countries in the region. Sonja Johnson, President of the TTCA, was overwhelmed by the success of the tournament: “ We felt we needed to engage the community in a positive way and the team supported an online event extended to the Caribbean Region. I could not have anticipated the level of support especially given the very short notice". The tournament, which was part of the Checkmate Coronavirus initiative, was dominated by the Jamaican players, with Darren Mc Kennis, Jaden Shawand, and John Stephenson taking the first places.
Gunnar Björnsson. PHOTO: Ómar Óskarsson
The next piece of news takes us to another island, but further north. Back in March, the Reykjavik Open was one of the first big events to announce its cancellation, but barely three months later, Iceland also became one of the first to resume their over-the-board activities, with an under 16 tournament held on May 23. Last week the ICF held elections, in which Gunnar Björnsson was elected for one more term, but part of his team was altered, bringing in some younger people. "Our immediate plans are to strengthen our chess-in-school programs and to bring back the Reykjavik Open, making the 2021 edition the best one in the history of the event. I also have the ambition to bid for the 2022 World Championship, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fischer-Spassky match", explains Gunnar. Chess remains extremely popular in Iceland, a country that has 14 Grandmasters and 22 chess clubs with more than 2200 registered members - for a total population of 365,000 inhabitants. That's the highest ratio of FIDE-rated players (and GMs) per capita in the world!
The normality is slowly returning to some other parts of the world, and a few days ago the Croatian Chess Championship kicked off in Vinkovci. The tournament is a 12-player round-robin, and in the absence of Ivan Saric, the veteran Zdenko Kozul is the top-seeded. Kozul had already won the title in 2006 and 2015, and he was also Yugoslavian Champion in two consecutive editions, 1989 and 1990. If you are craving for some Grandmasters playing old-good classical chess, here is your chance! The official website for the event is http://hrvatski-sahovski-savez.hr

Chess and research studies

This weekend we received a request from Astrid Barbier, a member of the Belgian women's team in the past two Olympiads. Not long ago Astrid earned a master's degree with her research titled "Chess as a bridge to daily life for people with a neurobiological development disorder". The original paper, in Dutch, can be found here.

Now Astrid is pursuing a second master's degree in "Gender and Diversity", and once again she has chosen chess as the topic for her research. "My survey is based on research from the STEM-field  (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) and already existing chess research. It tries to answer two main questions: ‘What profile does a chess player have?’ and ‘What image does a chess player have about chess players and about gender roles?’".

As part of her research, Astrid is conducting a survey, and she has asked our cooperation to spread the word so she can get as many chess players as possible to take the survey. It takes about 20 minutes to fill in, and it is available in English, Spanish, French, and Dutch. Considering that Astrid has devoted to chess her two master's degrees, the least we can do for her is to spare some of our time and help her. The survey is available at the University of Ghent website.

Recently, we have also had the chance to discuss with our colleague Alojzije Jankovic, General Secretary of the Croatian Chess Federation, the paper he co-authored with Ivan Novak on chess as an educational tool. This paper was originally included in the 7th International OFEL Conference on Governance, Management, and Entrepreneurship, held in Dubrovnik in April 2019 under the title "Embracing Diversity in Organizations". The whole document is available at EconPapers.

Promoting chess in education, and its presence in academic spheres, is one of FIDE's top priorities, and we are considering different formulas to stimulate further research in this field. An immediate goal is to improve the exchange of information between experts from different parts of the world. If this is your area of work, we encourage you to get in touch with the Chess in Education Commission (edu.secretary@fide.com) and with our public relations representative, David Llada (david.llada@fide.com), who can help you to get in touch with the media in order to give visibility to your work.

125 years of Swiss System

If there are two things from the chess world that other sports associations really envy, these are the Elo rating (which is being adopted by an increasing number of sports), and the Swiss pairing system. An article by André Schulz published at Chessbase last week has called our attention to the fact that the Swiss system just celebrated its 125 anniversary.

This pairing system is the brainchild of Dr. Julius Müller (1857-1917), a teacher from Brugg, a small and beautiful town 20 km away from Zurich. "At the end of the 19th century, chess became more and more popular, and more and more players wanted to take part in tournaments. The Swiss system was used to give all players the opportunity to play in tournaments and to give these tournaments a fixed schedule. The Swiss system is so clever and has been so successful that it is still used today and has become the standard for all amateur tournaments with many participants", writes André.

Actually, Julius Müller had already been experiment with different pairing systems since 1989, but it wouldn't be until 1895 that his "5. Schweizerische Schachturnier", the Fifth Swiss Tournament, established the final format that it is still used today.

You can read the whole article at Chessbase.

Shortlisted books for the Averbakh-Boleslavsky Award

The FIDE Trainers Commission has published the shortlist for the Averbakh-Boleslavsky Award to the best book of 2019. The three titles are, in alphabetical order, "Beyond Material" by Davorin Kuljasevic (New in Chess); "Game Changer" by Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan (New in Chess); and "Small Steps 2 Success" by Sam Shankland (Quality Chess).

With Artur Yusupov, Nigel Short, and John Donaldson as judges, the final winner will be announced on July 21. "All books have their merits and I am sure that all of them would be appreciated by readers. The quality of the material was excellent, so we have a really difficult choice. We hope that we have selected the most exciting books for chess lovers", explained Yusupov. “All three books are original, instructive and entertaining”, added Short.


Paul Morphy was born on this day in 1837, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The American is the "chess comet" par excellence: he achieved rocketing success but faded away rather quickly. He only played competitively between 1857 and 1859, but that was enough to beat the best players of the world (with the only exception being Staunton), showing such superiority that he was unanimously considered the unofficial world champion of his time. 

"He had the most extraordinary brain that anybody has ever had for chess. Technique, strategy, tactics, knowledge which is inconceivable for us; all that was possessed by Morphy fifty-four years ago", Capablanca said of him. "Morphy was probably the greatest genius of them all", was Fischer's take on his predecessor. 

This week, two of the most important players of recent times celebrate their birthday. Boris Gelfand turns 52 on Wednesday, and one day after Vladimir Kramnik will blow out 45 candles.

Surprisingly, the youngest of these two players is the one who has retired.  Kramnik, who lives in Switzerland now, does not compete in classical chess anymore, but he is enjoying himself taking part in rapid and charity events, and also training the impressive crop of young Indian players. Rumour has it that he is also trying his hand at songwriting!

Boris Gelfand is also devoting quite some time to sharing his vast knowledge, through his wonderful books (a third volume is in the making) and also as a lecturer at training camps. But he doesn't seem to have the slightest intention to quit playing competitive chess. His first participation in a Candidates Tournament was in 1991, and the last, in 2013. In total, he has been competing at the highest level for more than three decades!

Upcoming birthdays also include Anish Giri (June 28, 1994), and a contender for the world title, Alexei Shirov. Born on July 4, 1972, in Riga, Alexei was a World Champion in the U16 category. Ten years later, he rose to #4 in the world rankings, after defeating Vladimir Kramnik in a 10-game match that, supposedly, should have given him the right to fight with Kasparov for the title. Sadly, this match never took place, but Alexei would have another shot at the title in 2000, when he reached the final of the FIDE knock-out World Championship against Vishy Anand. 
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