28 December 2016

Celebrating on a Jubilee Scale

60-year anniversary celebration report from the Central House of Chess Players.

Reopening of the extensively overhauled Central House of Chess Players on Gogolevsky Boulevard took place on December 23. The legendary chess club, celebrating its 60-year anniversary, has been revived with support from the Government of Moscow. 
The Central House of Chess Players, named after M.M. Botvinnik, appeared on the map of Moscow in 1956. The nowadays historic for the entire chess world building on Gogolevsky Boulevard was then handed over to the USSR players thanks to the efforts of the 7th World Champion Vasily Smyslov and head of the USSR Chess Federation Vladimir Alatortsev. The country estate of Vasilchikova-S.A. Obolensky-N.F. von Mekk has for many years become home of chess to see each and every legendary player of the second half of the 20th century and host the largest chess competitions. 

A historic building on Gogolevsky Boulevard has been given a new lease of life through the Government of Moscow’s efforts. In November 2016, a two-year renovation of the Central House of Chess  Players was finalized, which was the first scientifically based restoration project of the mansion since the time of its construction in 1823. The specialists have carried out a full range of works, which, among other things, embrace restoration of a unique XIX century design of the interiors, complete replacement of utilities and installation of the most modern equipment that allows tournaments of the highest level  to be organized here.  Today, when the extensive restoration works are over, the CHCP has once again appeared in its unique splendor to turn over a new leaf in the athletic and cultural life of Moscow.

Its birthday, December 23, saw our beloved club decorated top to bottom with fairy lights, and, once inside, the guests were welcomed by elegant waiters and waitresses carrying trays with refreshments and beverages of various potency. The building's interior was as splendid as its exterior. 

The official opening ceremony was attended by Sergey Sobyanin, Mayor of Moscow, Dmitry Peskov, Chairman of the RCF Board of Trustees and Press Secretary of Russian President, Arkady Dvorkovich, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation,  Metropolitan Hilarion, bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, FIDE President, Andrey Filatov, President of the Russian Chess Federation and Vice-President of FIDE,  Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, President of the Republic of Ingushetia,  Andrey Vorobyov, governor of Moscow Oblast, Alexey Dyumin, governor of Tula Oblast, Alexander Zhukov, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma,  Gennady Timchenko, businessman and founder of the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation, Vitaly Savelyev, CEO of PJSC “Aeroflot”, Andrey Guriev, General Director of JSC “PhosAgro”, Andrey Murov, CEO of PJSC “FGC UES”, Andrei Bokarev, businessman, Sergei Maltsev, Vice-president of the Russian Railways,  Sergei Mikhailov, General Director of ITAR-TASS,  Peter Fradkov, CEO of “The TJSC Russian Export Center”, Anton Ustinov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of JSC “SOGAZ”, Samvel Karapetyan, owner of the real estate firm Tashir Group, Boris Mints,  Chairman of the O1 Group Investment Company Board of Directors, Vladimir Vorozheikin, Vice-president of ”Sberbank”, Pavel Shinsky, Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO and Vice President of the Russian Chess Federation, Eduard Taran, President of RATM Holding,  Mark Glukhovsky, Executive Director of RCF, Igor Burstein, editor of “64” chess magazine,  Andrei Konchalovsky, famous Russian film director, Tina Kandelaki, general producer of “Match TV”,   Yuri Lvovich Averbach, a legendary and the oldest world’s grandmaster,  Sergey Karjakin and Boris Gelfand, Vice-world champions, grandmasters Ian Nepomniachtchi, Ernesto Inarkiev, Aleksandr Riazantsev, Sergey Rublevsky, Vladimir Potkin, Sergey Shipov, Yuri Dokhoian, Valentina Gunina, Natalia Zhukova, members of the Supervisory Board of the Russian Chess Federation and many other distinguished guests .

The ceremony was conducted by the renowned TV journalist and  host Vladimir Posner, who started the ceremony by delving briefly into the Central House of Chess Players’ history. Among other things, Vladimir Vladimirovich mentioned his game against Anatoly Karpov ("I lost, of course,” the host admitted in a tone that no ordinary person would be capable of imitating). This remark of Posner’s was successfully used to the best effect by subsequent speakers Arkady Dvorkovich and Dmitry Peskov.

President of the Russian Chess Federation and Vice President of FIDE Andrey Filatov quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying "the country has always helped chess and chess has always helped the country". RCF President thanked Dmitry Peskov for having brought so many people together and Sergey Sobyanin for having reconstructed the temple of chess and enabling the Central House of Chess Players to have a new birthday on December 23.  

Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin, "We have been recently restoring hundreds of Moscow facilities, but  reconstruction of the mansion on Gogolevsky Boulevard is a unique project because chess is one of the most popular sports in the city. Almost as many as 60 thousands kids study chess in dedicated groups, which amounts to every tenth pupil! I used to study chess in a chess group when I was a pupil. I was category two player and chess belongs to my best school year recollections. 

Arkady Dvorkovich, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, recalled the Central House of Chess Players as being arena for many world champions’ battles. Nowadays, it is home for children and chess veterans in equal measures. "It creates a special type of environment as everyone coming here shares a feeling of being part of chess history, of a unique type of human activity that unites sport, science and art. My father used to work in this House and it is frequently visited by my mom because their lives were virtually entirely devoted to chess. 

Arkady Dvorkovich also highlighted the significance of chess in the upbringing of children. “Introducing chess into school curriculum is a subtle issue. However, I believe that it is essential that regional administrations do everything possible to have it implemented faster. What we witness nowadays is the blossom of the Russian chess school. Materializing itself now is a new galaxy of strong Russian chess players,” he pointed out. Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation expressed gratitude to the Government of Moscow, all partners of the Russian Chess Federation for their assistance in reconstruction of the CHCP.

Chairman of the RCF Board of Trustees and Press Secretary of Russian President Dmitry Peskov,  I want to thank the Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin for his response towards  rendering assistance in restoring the Central House of Chess Players. The work was well organized and completed very swiftly. I want to congratulate all of us on our Central Chess Club’s birthday. We have seen very young kids play chess here today - they will grow into very clever people who know to calculate in a good sense of this word, precisely how Muscovites should be." 

Metropolitan Hilarion, "My chess history includes some glorious events, such as three duels with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, and some half an hour ago it was enriched with one against Sergey Karjakin. I think that chess is a great game that is not just a sport but an art as well. Both my parents used to play chess; my dad was a candidate master and my mom became champion of Moscow among girls, so that my childhood was spent among chess books. Every World Champion’s name was known to me and I studied their games. Back then our entire country used to keep a close eye on the world championship matches. I am very happy that this love for chess is being revived nowadays. On behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church I would like to thank everyone who participated in the reconstruction of this wonderful chess club and give my blessings to those who will come here to play this ancient game and hone their intellectual abilities.“

Yuri Lvovich Averbach recalled the CHCP foundation history and a special role of the 7th World Champion Vasily Smyslov, who used to reside on the same floor with the chief architect of Moscow who suggested a few sites for building of the Central House of Chess Players. The oldest world grandmaster quoted the American grandmaster S.Reshevsky as saying, “Having visited this place (the CHCP) I realized that my life has not been spent in vain.”

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has declared 2017 as the year of Yuri Lvovich Averbach, who celebrates his 95th anniversary in February. Besides, head of the World Chess Federation added that FIDE would gift the Russian Chess Federation Museum with original letters by the 5th World Champion Max Euwe. “I believe CHCP to be the nicest world’s chess club that was visited by more than half the number of all World Champions. We wish that this beautiful building witnessed a world championship match and that millions of chess fans watched those battles going on in the CHCP. As FIDE President I wish that chess crown was back here and that it be returned by a representative of the Russian and Moscow chess school,” was pointed out by Ilyumzhinov. 

The Vice-world champion Sergey Karjakin, “It is a pleasure being here, as well as a great honor. I would like to thank Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin and the Russian Chess Federation for superb reconstruction of the CHCP building and for such a magnificent Chess Museum. I have never seen so beautiful a chess club in any other world country. I believe that Moscow is a capital of chess because there is no other place that can boast this many strong players. As for me, I do like Kirsan Nikolayevich’s idea of organizing a world championship match here. 

The official part of the ceremony ended with President of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Filatov expressing gratitude to everyone present and announcing to the guests that they were into a concert by an outstanding musician, RCF  Board of Trustees member Nikolai Lugansky. "Back then this hall used to hear Rachmaninoff, and nowadays - Lugansky," was summed up by Andrey Filatov. Performing along with Nikolai Lugansky was a famous cellist, Merited Artist of Russia Boris Andrianov. 

Andrey Filatov gave a tour of the Museum of Chess for a well-known writer and TV host Edward Radzinsky, accompanied by Tina Kandelaki and Zhanna Agalakova. 

The team of the Russian Chess Federation wishes  prosperity and new grand tournaments and events to the Central House of Chess Players and Happy New Year to all chess fans!

Review by Eteri Kublashvili, pictures by Vladimir Barsky