Chess in Politics

There are many skills that are equally meaningful and promising in chess and politics. It is therefore not a surprise that many of the most influential politicians in history played (and still play) chess as a balance to their legal duties.

Chessimo will introduce you to important characters in current politics who have a thing for our favorite thinking sport.

Politiker

Willy Brandt (1913 – 1992)

The fourth Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and Peace Nobel Prize laureate was not only a politically clever and skilled man, but also had remarkable strategies. He was a tough fighter at the chess board too.

Angela Merkel (born 1954)

The first female chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (since 2005) is not known to be an enthusiastic supporter of checkmate. At least, she has been collecting large wooden chess pieces at her office. Every year, the collection is extended by a new piece (she currently owns eight such pieces) which is given to her traditionally by the Association of Forest Owners.

Fidel Castro (born 1926)

The former state president of Cuba has been in office for 49 years and is therefore considered the longest-governing (non-monarchical) ruler of the 20th and 21st century. He enjoyed playing chess and held an ELO-rating of 1900 points.

Ché Guevara (1928 – 1967)

The leader of the Cuban Revolutionary Movement (1956 – 1959) was a great chess enthusiast with an ELO of 1950 points.

Boris Yelzin (1931 – 2007)

The democratically elected president (1991 – 1999) of the Russian Federation is nowadays a common symbol of the overall downturn of the country for many Russians, as he led Russia into bankruptcy during his legislation period and caused poverty amongst the population. Whether his tactics on the chess board was mature than that – we will never find out. At least he founded the Russian Sverdlosk Chess Club with his friend Anatoli Karpov.

Jaques Chirac (born 1932)

France’s president from 1995 to 2007 is known for his passion for chess.

Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)

As one of the founding fathers of the United States of America he signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1768 he published an essay about checkmate that is still considered one of the two most popular publications about chess in America.

George Washington (1732 – 1799)

The first president of The United States of America (1789 until 1797) was passionate about three things: Reading, writing, and checkmate. He even owned a set of ivory chess pieces that is a displayed exhibit at the National Museum in Washington, D.C.

John Adams (1735 – 1826)

After George Washington’s time in office ended, John Adams took over the presidency of the United States of America from 1797 until 1801. In his biography he wrote that he spent his evenings in France with music, card games, chess, and backgammon.

Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States of America, in office from 1801 until 1809. Checkmate was one of his favorite leisure activities; he even owned an impressive collection of chess sets and chess publications.

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)

16th president of the United States of America, governing from 1861 until 1865. He spent much time over chess boards. The set of chess pieces he once purchased for his son is now an exhibit in the American Historic Museum.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)

The youngest president in the history of the United States (1901 until 1909) liked playing chess during his hunting trips. In 1904, he even invited some of the country’s chess masters to the White House.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – 1945)

The only president of the United States who was in office for more than two legislative periods (1993 until his death in 1945) liked dueling Henry Ford in chess when he visited the White House.

John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963)

The first catholic president of the United States of America (1961 until 1963) was given an extraordinary set of chess pieces by a friend in 1962 with whom he spent a lot of time.

Bill Clinton (born 1946)

The former president of the United States of America (1993 until 2001) played checkmate in the chess team during his studies at the University of Georgetown and still supports an American organization that supports chess lessons at schools.

Barack Obama (born 1961)

Since 2009, the first African-American president of the United States of America is in office. At an age of nine, he was taught how to play checkmate by his stepfather and grandfather. Until today, he enjoys playing chess with his wife Michelle.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

 

15th European Championship of Women

Eurpean-Individual-Women-CS-300x199From July 5th to 18th the Novotel in Plovdiv, Bulgaria hosted the 15th edition of the European Individual Women’s Championship.

Every national Chess Federation was allowed to send any number of players to the championship, completely independent from titles or rankings. The only precondition was the membership in a Chess Federation that is included in the European Chess Federation.

116 participants from 26 nations competed in the event. Russia was represented by the largest number of competitors (24), followed by Bulgaria (15), and Azerbaijan (10).

The entire prize money fund of 60,000€ was split amongst the participants on the first 20 ranks. The winner received an award of 11,000€, whilst the second and third place were bestowed with 9,000€ and 7,000€.

Next to the prize money, the qualification for the World Championship was a powerful incentive for high-class performances. 14 starting slots were assigned for the next World Championship that will be carried out in the knock-out mode next year

The competitors played 11 rounds in Swiss Tournament System, in each of which they were given 90 minutes for the first 40 moves and 30 minutes for the rest of the duel.

First rank was obtained by the 25 year-old Russian player Valentina Gunina with 9 out of 11 points. Only half a point short was her Russian colleague Tatiana Kosintseva who was followed by Salome Melia from Georgie with 8 points. Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine) also scored 8 points and came off 4th in final rankings. None of the four German competitors were able to secure higher ranks, but placed in the top half of the table.

Overview of the first 20 ranks (final result after 11 rounds):

(See full rankings on http://chess-results.com/tnr136442.aspx?lan=0&art=4&flag=30&wi=821)

Rank SNo. Name FED Elo Pts  SC 1  SC 2  SC 3
1 4 GM Gunina Valentina RUS 2501 9.0 2432 73.5 79.0
2 8 GM Kosintseva Tatiana RUS 2476 8.5 2413 70.5 75.0
3 14 IM Melia Salome GEO 2454 8.0 2447 68.5 73.0
4 2 IM Muzychuk Mariya UKR 2521 8.0 2424 70.5 75.5
5 16 GM Zhukova Natalia UKR 2451 7.5 2450 70.5 75.5
6 1 GM Dzagnidze Nana GEO 2541 7.5 2429 73.5 79.0
7 22 IM Batsiashvili Nino GEO 2417 7.5 2426 70.0 74.5
8 9 IM Javakhishvili Lela GEO 2474 7.5 2419 73.5 79.5
9 7 GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2488 7.5 2415 68.5 74.0
10 28 IM Foisor Cristina-Adela ROU 2383 7.5 2411 68.5 72.5
11 10 GM Socko Monika POL 2462 7.5 2389 64.0 68.5
12 11 IM Khurtsidze Nino GEO 2460 7.5 2385 66.0 71.0
13 19 WGM Kashlinskaya Alina RUS 2441 7.5 2385 64.5 67.0
14 12 GM Danielian Elina ARM 2458 7.5 2383 68.0 73.0
15 21 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia RUS 2429 7.5 2337 60.5 65.5
16 18 IM Mkrtchian Lilit ARM 2446 7.0 2407 65.5 70.0
17 13 IM Paehtz Elisabeth GER 2456 7.0 2385 64.0 69.5
18 23 IM Arabidze Meri GEO 2406 7.0 2350 64.0 69.0
19 26 IM Guramishvili Sopiko GEO 2402 7.0 2251 55.0 59.5
20 6 GM Hoang Thanh Trang HUN 2490 6.5 2400 69.0 74.5

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

Is Chess a Sport?

The German Federal Government considers chess an activity unworthy of support

xxxThere has been a heated discussion, triggered by the German Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, within the last few weeks whether or not chess is eligible to be referred to as a sport. The ministry currently supports sports in the country with more than 130 Million Euros, 130,000 Euros of which were used each year to promote and support the German Chess Federation. Since 1976, the Federation has been fostered by the German government, and the approximately 100,000 members have been appreciating the financial aid ever since.

The German Olympic Sports Federation caused another uproar in the discussion when it altered its eligibility criteria in December 2013. In consequence, the Chess Federation received a formal denial of further subsidies, sent by the Ministry of Internal Affairs a few weeks ago.

The written statement basically explains that there is no reasonable argument to support this kind of mental exercise in the future, as is lacks motoric activities. In other words, there is not going to be any support for the Chess Federation from 2014 to 2017.

How can we define the term ‘sport’?

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about sports is probably football. Or athletics. Or any other sport that requires a high level of physical fitness. However, the term ‘sport’ cannot only be defined through exercise. Not even experts agree on what aspects should be taken into consideration when defining a sport. Fact is: Learning a general rule set, playing in accordance with the competition’s conditions, fair-play thinking, and practice are equal elements of a sport – just like motor skills.

Checkmate meets all these requirements. Who has had the pleasure of playing a six-hour tournament session or watching a nine-round blitz chess tournament before, is aware that activity and speedy responsiveness are indispensable elements of the game. Furthermore, there is a number of other well-recognized sports such as shooting, fishing, or golfing that include just as little exercise as chess when comparing them to competitive disciplines.

Dedication that pays off!

With the weight of these aspects, many people agree that chess should and must be considered a sport, which makes the denial of subsidies an unjustified act. The reactions to the Ministry’s statement were fierce. Not only were the public discussions intense. A petition was set up, and one of the parties initiated parliamentary motion about the topic. Luckily, the Budget Committee decided to countermand the denial of subsidies, which gave the chess enthusiasts reason to calm down. The discussion itself remains.

What do you think? Should chess be recognized to be a sport by the Federal Government and society just like other popular sports or is the support unreasonable?

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

 

 

FIDE Women’s Grand Prix Lopota

FIDEWomenLopotaSince 2009, the chess talents of this world compete in yet another tournament series at world-class level: The FIDE Grand Prix of Women. In two years’ time, six tournaments with each twelve participants are carried out. The proud winner of the current competition can not only look forward to 10,000€ prize money (Out of a total amount of 60,000€), but also to 160 valuable Grand Prix points for an unshared first rank. These can be a great leap forward to the overall tournament victory which is calculated as follows:

Every qualified player can compete in four of the six Grand Prix tournaments, the best three of which are taken into account for the final rankings. The scores are added up to determine the winner of the entire contest. The winner of the Grand Prix obtains the right to challenge the current world champion. If the world champion herself wins the title, the runner-up automatically obtains the right to challenge her. The tournament was scheduled from June 18 to July 2 2014 in the beautiful Georgian city Lopota.

The twelve participants can also be referred to as the ‘Eastern Elite’ of chess, as only the following countries were represented in the competition: China (3 players), India (2), Georgia (2), and each one player from Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Armenia, and Uzbekistan.

With 9 out of 12 points the Chinese player Hou Yifan dominated the tournament, followed by her compatriot Ju Wenjun (7 points). The winner had already secured the overall victory one day prior to the event’s official end. Nevertheless, the women played the last round with remarkable motivation and at a world-class level.

Take a look at the final ranking down below. (Detailed reports are available on the official website of the FIDE, read about the previous Grand Prix event in April here)

The upcoming tournament of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix Series is scheduled from August 24 until September 9 and hosted by Mongolia.

Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pts Res. Vict
1 3 GM Hou Yifan 2629 CHN * 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 9 0 7
2 4 WGM Ju Wenjun 2532 CHN 0 * 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 7 1 5
3 9 GM Danielian Elina 2460 ARM ½ 0 * ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 7 0 4
4 5 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2541 GEO 0 ½ ½ * 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 0 4
5 12 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2488 BUL 0 0 ½ 1 * ½ ½ 0 1 1 ½ 1 6 ½ 4
6 6 GM Dronavalli Harika 2503 IND ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 6 ½ 2
7 7 GM Muzychuk Anna 2561 UKR 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ * ½ 1 ½ 1 1 3
8 1 GM Koneru Humpy 2613 IND ½ ½ 0 0 1 1 ½ * ½ ½ 0 1 1 3
9 8 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2532 RUS ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½ * ½ 1 1 ½ 3
10 2 GM Zhao Xue 2538 CHN 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ 1 0 1
11 11 GM Khotenashvili Bela 2518 GEO 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 1 0 ½ * 0 3 0 1
12 10 WGM Muminova Nafisa 2332 UZB 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 * 0 1

 

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe