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FIDE Congress Underway in Tromso Print E-mail
By David Mehler   
August 9, 2014
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Experts in every area of chess are gathered in Tromso, Norway, for the FIDE Congress, which started on August 5 and will conclude on August 15, 2014. USCF representatives include: USCF Delegate Micheal Khodarkovsky, Zonal President and Director of Events Francisco Guadalupe, President Ruth Haring, Executive Director Jean Hoffman, and Commission Member and Ratings Officer Walter Brown.  FIDE Vice President Beatriz Marinello, Commission Chairperson Susan Polgar, Commission Member Sevan Muradian, Commission Member and St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center Executive Director Tony Rich, International Arbiter Sophia Rohde, and I, the US Chess Center President, are also attending from the United States.  For me, this first FIDE Congress and Olympiad is a fascinating experience.

Before the General Assembly meets to elect a FIDE President and consider changes to the rules of the organization, many Commissions have held meetings to discuss their accomplishments for the year and to let the interested public know what they will propose to the General Assembly.

The Social Action Commission told Inspiring stories of Phiona Mutesi’s rise in Uganda, the beginning of an excellent chess program for Chilean girls, and the value chess might have in protecting against Alzheimer’s.
 
In the Development Commission, the discussion of resources for increasing the quantity of play throughout the world was quite lively.  Some speakers argued that countries interested in developing their talent should organize more round-robin tournaments in order to provide challenging games in every round of a tournament.  Others spoke about the great success some countries are having in attracting foreign players to compete in open Swiss events.  In some parts of the world, talented young players have a difficult time raising the funds needed to travel to distant spots to demonstrate their ability, hone their skills and earn international titles.  The Commission has created a system to financially encourage developing nations to send its promising players to major events.

The Chess in Schools Commission was a large packed room of players who recognize that today’s children are the lifeblood of a healthy chess community.  The Commission presented fascinating stories about the efforts in Turkey, China, India, Uruguay and many other countries to incorporate chess into school curricula for all ages of students.  USCF President Ruth Haring and I told stories of staging the largest tournament ever, the 2013 SuperNationals, and of the success of chess programs in our nation’s capital.

There was more good news from the Commission for Women’s Chess. The Commission discussed the extensive contributions made in promoting chess among girls and women all over the world.  In Latin America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States, programs to create more women FIDE Trainers have been successful.  Other efforts to assist female players achieve greater success in chess have been bearing fruit, and they are confident that these measures will improve the retention rate of girls in the game as young girls see that older girls and women remain players and now serve as coaches.

Even in the hallways outside of the meeting rooms, there are interesting discussions.  A researcher described the work being done using chess as a tool for governments to address a variety of social concerns.  There was a spirited debate as to whether chess, as a language of its own, is more of a negotiation between the two players or instead is an argument.  Such discussions reflect the intellectual atmosphere that pervades the Olympiad.

Seeing the best players in the world, whether they are walking down the street, posing for photographs, or in the heat of the battle over the board, is a tremendous experience.  Meeting the leaders of chess organizations throughout the world provides the opportunity to arrange for future matches among the 177 nations in attendance.  I look forward to staying in touch with my new chess friends and arranging for our students to meet over the board in person or online.
 
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