25 March 2012

FIDE/ECU Chess in Schools

My most recent post, Chess as a Compulsory Subject, introduced an initiative taking place in Armenian schools. There are also several cross-border initiatives involving 'Chess in School/Schools' (CIS). On the international level, FIDE is taking the lead and launched its website in February 2011: Website of the FIDE Chess in Schools Commission.

On the European level, the European Chess Union (ECU) is working with Garry Kasparov -- Silvio Danailov: "Reaching New Frontiers" [chess-news.ru; November 2011] -- ECU President Danailov, who was first elected in September 2010, offered a historical summary.

I had [an] election program and one of the main points there was 'Chess in Schools'. [...] I knew that Kasparov had a fund in America and that it successfully worked there; and chess nowadays is in almost every school in US. Michael Khodarkovsky is working there. They have a great experience. I contacted them and offered cooperation for creating the same project in Europe. That’s because I have some contacts in European Parliament in Brussels [Bulgarian MEP, Slavi Binev].

He agreed, we started to work and 'Kasparov Chess Foundation' was opened in Europe. He found a Belgian businessman, one of the best managers in Belgium, Jan Callewaert, who agreed to be the head of ECU in 'Chess in schools'. [Susan] Polgar and Malcolm [Pein] have also joined it -– serious people who love chess and who want to work. At the same time sponsors found 100.000 Euros for everything and this committee created a very good program which we successfully presented a month ago in Brussels in front of 150 European deputies. So, I’m very glad because I think that we've done a great job during the year.

Now there will be a written declaration of the deputies on official adoption of chess in 27 EU member countries. The European Parliament with 780 deputies has to vote for this program next year. We need 51% for approving it which means we need approximately 390 deputies to vote positively. And then chess will officially become... I mean European Parliament will make a recommendation for all 27 EU member countries to adopt chess in schools as an official (two hours per week) subject for children under the age 6-9 or 6-12.

If it's true that 'chess nowadays is in almost every school in U.S.', it's partly because extra-curricular school activities are more popular in the U.S. than they are in Europe. Whatever the reason, here are some relevant links for the European initiative.

Last December, I posted about the ongoing friction between FIDE and Kasparov: Out to Ruin FIDE? Chess politics being what it is, that conflict spilled over to the CIS programs: Official Statement by Ali Nihat Yazici, Chairman of Chess in School Commission [Fide.com; November 2011]. Like many other observers of the international chess scene, I'll be following the ensuing evolutions with considerable interest.

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