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6 December 2016

Taming Most Fierce Storms into Cozy Environment

The opening of the World Schools Chess Championship in Sochi in the review of Dmitry Kryakvin.

As opposed to the friendly staff of the hotel "Zhemchuzhina" and caring organizers of the World School Chess Championship, a December version of Sochi has welcomed its guests with other than heartwarming hugs. With massive storm raging outside, a disaster warning was announced and the Black Sea capital's airport would not allow planes to land or take-off! Since the much-suffering Turkish team has had bad luck making it into the championship venue, the organizers have adopted a Solomonic decision to award the Ottoman Empire's chess envoys with a half point in round one without actual games to be played. By the way, head of our press corps Vladimir Barsky has also been delayed in Moscow by unfavorable weather, and to think that his arrival is so much looked forward to in the South in connection with his presentation of a fresh set of teaching materials developed by RCF.

If omitting the machinations of Perun, everything related to the "Zhemchuzhina" hotel is worthy of considerable accolades. The colorful opening ceremony saw the illusionist Daniel Raven bending forks through the power of his mind, fishing roses out of fire, guessing other people's thoughts, taking assistance from the RCF employee Dmitry Feofanov to pierce hands with nails and, for the first time in my memory, a two-hour opening flew past like a moment. The children were thrilled with it! Greetings from President Vladimir Putin, arrival of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, head of FIDE  and Mark Glukhovsky, the RCF executive director, have become part of a highest level competition organized by a friendly team of the tournament director Alexander Tkachev.

Lineups of many group ages are quite impressive with World and Europe champions, prize winners of many prestigious events among their ranks. The Uzbekistan team is strong indeed, but Russia is up to the occasion to a no lesser degree with Ilya Makoveev and Margarita Zvereva ready to deliver battles to any foreign talent! It would be early to delve into the subject of tournament intrigue yet, but the competition definitely promises to be very interesting. At the opening ceremony Alexander Kostyev, head of the Moscow Chess Federation,  shared about the tournament history, his past dreams of moving school chess to a new level and of carrying out first such event in Russia - we see Alexander Nikolayevich's aspirations being materialized.

While over 500 young boys and girls of all ages sat to play their first tournament games, the Burgundy hall hosted the first event of the additional program. Alexander Kostyev opened it by going over the history of the chess Vseobuch (Soviet universal training) in our country. Chess fever in the USSR and the indefatigable Iakov Rokhlin, Lev Kassil, who came up with the idea of "Belaya Ladya", the experience gained in the Moldavian Republic and by the organizer Feodor Skripchenko (Elmira's father), as well as the Krasnodar experience, which led to a young man from Tuapse advancing to the forefront of chess to defeat Garry Kasparov later on. Next part of the Moscow Chess Federation head's story covered the post-Soviet times, in which Miron Sher, Adrian Mikhalchishin Vladimir Poley sowed the seeds of Vseobuch in the United States, Turkey, Sweden, and all over the world. Kostyev also cited a fresh example of nowadays experience of Poland introducing a multi-level project "Chess in Schools", which is expected to yield tremendous results.

Mark Glukhovsky let in the know of the situation linked with introduction of chess into school curriculum in different regions of the country, also mentioning instructive examples of experience acquired by the Americans and Irish. Finally, Deputy Director of the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation Igor Baradachev made a presentation to highlight multiple projects carried out by the organization, varying  from organizing Superfinals and supertournaments to supplying schools with chess equipment. With the Foundation carrying on contests on a yearly basis, the winning schools are awarded with financial support to the amount of up to several million rubles.

All in all, school chess prospects look optimistic indeed! I do hope that the next week's weather will dispense with spilling its rage on us.

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