The United Nations (UN)’s International Chess Day or World Chess Day is annually observed on 20th July across the globe to mark the significant role of Chess as an affordable and inclusive activity and also to improve overall Intelligence quotient (IQ) across the world.
20th July 2023 also marks the observance of the 99th Anniversary of the International Chess Federation, or Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE), established in 1924.
i.The idea to designate a specific day to celebrate chess internationally was first proposed by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). In 1966, FIDE, the international governing body for chess, officially established International Chess Day in response to UNESCO’s proposal. Since then, July 20th has been celebrated annually as a tribute to the captivating world of chess.
ii. On 12th December 2019, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution A/RES/74/22 and proclaimed the 20th July of every year as World Chess Day.
iii. The first-ever UN recognised World Chess Day was observed on 20th July 2020.
iv.FIDE was recognised by the International Olympic Committee in 1999.
Why July 20?
i. 20th July mark the date of the establishment of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) in Paris (France) in 1924.
ii. FIDE was founded during the 8th summer Olympic Games in Paris, France,
iii. The International Chess Day began on the same day (20th July 1966) as the founding of the FIDE.
i. Chess is a two player strategy board game and has 64 squares organised in an 8×8 grid. The board is chequered with dark and light squares and is divided into ranks (rows) and files (columns).
ii. Each player starts the game with 16 pieces (8 Pawn, 2 Knights, 2 Bishops, 2 Rooks, 1 Queen and 1 King)
History of Chess:
i. According to the UN, one of the theories states that an early game similar to the present day chess called Chaturanga originated in the Northern Indian Subcontinent during the Gupta period (~ 319 – 543 Common Era (CE)) and spread along the Silk Roads west to Persia.
ii. Chaturanga was later introduced as Shatranj in Sassanid Persia around 600 CE.
iii. The Alfonso manuscripts, also known as the Libro de los Juegos (Book of Games), a mediaeval collection of texts on 3 different types of popular game from the 13th century CE describe the game of Chess as very similar to Persian Shatranj in rules and gameplay.
World Chess Champions:
- Grand Master (GM) Ding Liren from China is the world Chess champion (As of May 2023)
- GM Ju Wenjun from China is the Women’s world champion
i. Chess became part of the Olympic Esports Series in 2023.
ii. The first Chess Olympiad for People with Disabilities took place in January-February 2023 in Belgrade, Serbia.
About International Chess Federation (Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE)):
President– Arkady Dvorkovich (Russia)
Headquarters– Lausanne, Switzerland
Motto– “Gens una sumus” (Latin) (“We are one family”)