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Day Three at the FIDE Congress: From Chess-In-The-Schools to Ethics Print E-mail
By Tony Rich   
September 4, 2012
Tony Rich, Photo John Henderson
The FIDE Congress is underway and the American delegation is representing the U.S. chess community well. Chess in the Schools, FIDE's flagship commission, had its first meeting today; commission chair and FIDE Vice President Ali Nihat Yazici was happy to announce  that over 1,600 students in 101 countries have become part of the Chess in the Schools program since its debut in April 2012. Yazici mentioned that this is the first program in which the International Chess Federation pays member federations for their involvement. Citing the relative newness of the program, Ali said, "These revenues to national federations are very small right now, but will be like a river soon - trust me."

While the Chess in the Schools program offers many benefits to schools and students, including weekly newsletters, equipment, and teaching materials, the curriculum comes at a cost to both the educational institution and the students. FIDE created premium and standard scholastic memberships (the first individual memberships ever offered by FIDE), which is the primary source of revenue for scholastic programming for the national federations and FIDE. Ali acknowledged that this may be the largest hurdle to overcome while attempting to expand the program and offered various ideas on how national federations can begin fundraising efforts to offset the cost to students and schools.

In addition to the implementation of chess in schools, FIDE has demonstrated an interest in researching the academic benefits of chess in education. "As FIDE, we should consider what other effects chess has on children. We should start looking at the academic benefits as well", Yazici mentioned during his opening remarks. In fact, FIDE has already held two international chess in education conferences - one in Turin, Italy in 2008 and the other as an internet-based conference in 2012.

The Technical Commission, which governs such topics as standards for chess equipment and testing of electronic chess clocks, once again discussed electronic scoresheets. At the FIDE Congress last year, the Technical Commission decided to develop a set of guidelines that outline the minimum requirements for such devices.

In their meeting, commission members reviewed such a proposal and elected to recommend it for adoption by the General Assembly. In particular, the committee agreed that all electronic scoresheets must be single-purpose devices to prevent the possibility of cheating by way of wireless communication or the installation of a chess engine. If approved, this will allow FIDE to to being testing and approving existing electronic scoresheets and give manufacturers clear guidelines governing their use and function.

In more contentious news, the Ethics Commission received a formal complaint from the British Chess Federation regarding the much-debated decision by the Turkish Chess Federation to disallow arbiters from the five nations involved in the recent lawsuit against FIDE. While a decision has yet to be reached, the Ethics Commission did decide to hear the evidence and will make a ruling over the coming days.
USCF President Ruth Haring, Zonal President Franc Guadalupe, FIDE Delegate Michael Khodarkovsky, FIDE Ratings officer Walter Brown, and this writer will continue their hard work over the following days leading up to the FIDE Congress General Assembly. In the meantime, readers can find more information about the congress at www.fide.com. 

Tony Rich is the Executive Director at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. In addition to his work at the FIDE Congress, he has been providing photos for FM Mike Klein's CLO reportage. 

November - Chess Life Online 2012

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