Every day is a good day to think about chess, but July 20th is very special as it is World Chess Day.
Why July 20? Well, on July 20, 1924 FIDE (la Federation Internationale d’Echecs, or the International Chess Federation) was founded in Paris, France. FIDE oversees the game of chess internationally, developing official rules for the game, granting titles to players, educating chess teachers and arbiters, coordinating with national chess bodies (such as the Chess Federation of Canada) and operating major tournaments (such as the Women’s World Championship, which is happening right now, or the 2024 Candidates’ Tournament, which will be hosted in Toronto next year.)
The United Nations recognized World Chess Day in 1966 in recognition of FIDE’s creation. Like any large organization, FIDE is not without its problems, but under its guidance we’ve seen chess grow from a pastime to an internationally-recognized sport that is promoted globally. FIDE has played a critical role in encouraging women and girls to play chess, establishing the Women’s World Championship in 1926, and developing a parallel set of women’s chess titles.
Today nearly every country in the world has a chess federation under the FIDE banner, and Grandmasters, Woman Grandmasters and other titled players exist in most places on Earth. Interest in this fascinating and ancient game only continues to grow everywhere on earth.
How will you spend International Chess Day? Many Canadian youth are spending it in Calgary, playing in the Canadian Youth Blitz Championship, part of the 2023 Canadian Open.