30 December 2018

FIDE's Social Commissions 2018

A month of five Sundays with posts scheduled for only four of those Sundays gives me the opportunity to run a second post on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016). Instead of a video, like in last week's Biggest Lesson of Chess, let's go back to Spectating the 89th FIDE Congress and look at the two social commissions. Their reports for the Congress were issued with the minutes as:-

  • Social Action Commission (SAC) - Annex 56, and
  • Social Projects Commission (SPC) - Annex 63

This is not the first time I've covered the two commissions. For the previous reports, see:-

Along with the chairperson, Beatriz Marinello (USA), the minutes of the SAC list five Americans in attendance. By coincidence, the first of those names is Sam Sloan, who issued his own series of reports on the Congress and the concurrent Olympiad, as we saw in Gonzo Chess Journalism (October 2018). Sloan mentioned the SAC meeting in

2018-09-30: Batumi Chess Olympiad 2018 Round Six Press Report • 'I spent almost the whole day attending FIDE meetings at the Sheraton Hotel where some shocking facts came out. First was a meeting for the Social Action Commission chaired and founded by Beatriz Marinello. It is devoted to bringing children into chess to help with their intellectual development. One of the members is Robert Katende of Uganda who taught and trained Phiona Mutesi, whose life was made into a Hollywood movie, The Queen of Katwe. Phiona is here at the Olympiad but she took a rest day today.'

None of the 'shocking facts' had anything to do with the SAC meeting, where half the time was spent on how to encourage girls to become involved in chess. The main speaker on the subject ('how to bridge the big gaps that exist between girls and boys.') was Carol Meyer (also USA), the Executive Director of the U.S. chess federation since October 2017. Attached to the SAC minutes is a 16 page brochure titled 'Social Action Commission Booklet'. It starts,

The FIDE Social Action Commission created and supports programs that have a positive impact on many lives. Using chess as a platform to empower teachers in communities, as well as providing support that will help children to develop life skills and promote positive social development we are helping make a difference.

About half of that brochure also covers girls in chess, leaving little doubt where the focus of the commission lies. The last page of the brochure points to some relevant resources, like the commission's web site, sac.fide.com, which has not been updated in over a year; Chess Educators; and Lens Ethics.

The minutes of the SPC, chaired by Darcy Lima (BRA), are less compelling, but deal with issues that are much wider than the chess community. The three main topics are chess in prisons, chess & autism, and chess & substance abuse. On the second point, the minutes said, 'The final conclusion [of a two year study] can be summarized as':-

The people mentally impaired show difficulties in understanding the rules for social life. The study concluded that chess game teaches that the rules, which are used in the game, can be used in the society, thus these people are able to have more success in the relationship established with family members and the society as well.

As I noted in a recent post, FIDE Commissions 2018, the two commissions (SAC & SPC) appear to have been merged sometime after the 89th Congress. Nothing is mentioned in the List of Decisions of Q4 2018 Presidential Board (November 2018), and I could find no confirmation anywhere else. I hope that their work will continue in some form or other. They provide a ready answer to the question asked by many outside the chess community: 'What use is chess in the grand scheme of everyday life?'.

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