Founded in Paris on 20 July 1924, the World Chess Federation (Federation Internationale des Echecs, known as FIDE from its French acronym) was recognized by the International Olympic Committee as an International Sports Federation in 1999.
Prior to the founding of FIDE, Chess had existed as a sport played at competitive level for centuries. In its over 2000 years history from its origins in India and outlying countries in Asia, the game had undergone a series of changes and metamorphosed into its present day form by the 15th century. In those days, there was no common code governing the Laws of Chess or uniform regulations for International Competitions. The only binding force was that it was a gentleman's sport in which the players were expected to act with decorum plus the enduring beauty of the game to its practitioners.
The general promotion of chess in the world owes a great deal to competitions officially known as the "Tournament of Nations" and more popularly as the "Chess Olympiads". This latter title has been accepted so widely that the official name has been almost forgotten. This is quite understandable, given the fact that Olympiads date back over three thousand years.
The ancient Olympics gathered together not only athletes but also poets, who read their verse, philosophers who expounded their learning and statesmen, who used the occasion to negotiate and conclude agreements. The idea of peace, understanding and mutual respect still permeates those taking part in the Olympic Games today.
With 187 member federations, FIDE is among the biggest sports organizations in the world, very proud of over forty official championships for youngsters, men, women and seniors.
Chess is an affiliate member, or fully recognized by, National Olympic Committees in 117 countries, and chess as a sport is recognized in 107 countries. These numbers are constantly being revised upwards.
FIDE believes that all nations should be included in the international chess community. Our aim is to achieve significant growth in the number of people of all ages participating in chess events at all levels and to develop chess by increasing the level of tournament participation globally.
The objective is twofold, to assist our best chess players to continue to achieve new peaks of excellence and to increase the pool of talent from which new champions will emerge.
More players mean more strong or elite players. In addition, chess competition provides valuable opportunities for people of all ages to improve themselves, display team work and become more engaged in a safe and healthy community activity.
Game of Chess and its History
Origin of Chess
Chess originated in India, where its early form in the 6th century was chaturanga, which translates as "four divisions of the military" – infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots, represented respectively by pawn, knight, bishop, and rook. In Persia, around 600AD, the name became shatranj and the rules were developed further. Shatranj was taken up by the Muslim world after the Islamic conquest of Persia, with the pieces largely retaining their Persian names. In Spanish "shatranj" was rendered as ajedrez and in Greek as zatrikion, but in the rest of Europe it was replaced by versions of the Persian shah ("king"). The game reached Western Europe and Russia, from the 9th century and by the year 1000 it had spread throughout Europe.
Around 1200, rules of shatranj started to be modified in southern Europe, and about 1475 several major changes rendered the game essentially as it is today. The oldest preserved printed chess book, Repeticion de Amores y Arte de Ajedrez (Repetition of Love and the Art of Playing Chess) by Spanish churchman Luis Ramirez de Lucena was published in Salamanca in 1497.
By the eighteenth century the center of European chess life had moved from the Southern European countries to France. Centres of chess life were the coffee houses of the large European cities like Café de la Regence in Paris and Simpson's Divan in London. As the nineteenth century progressed, chess organization developed quickly. Many chess clubs, chess books and chess journals appeared.
The first modern chess tournament was held in London in 1851 and from the end of the 19th century, the number of master tournaments and matches quickly grew. Prague born Wilhelm Steinitz founded an important tradition: his triumph over the leading German master Johannes Zukertort in 1886 is regarded as the first official World Chess Championship. Steinitz lost his crown in 1894 to a much younger German mathematician Emanuel Lasker, who held the title for 27 years, the longest tenure of any World Champion.
It took a big prodigy from Cuba, Jose Raul Capablanca (World Champion 1921-1927), to end the German-speaking dominance in chess; he was undefeated in tournament play for eight years until 1924. His successor was Russian-French Alexander Alekhine, a strong attacking player, who died as the World Champion in 1946, having briefly lost the title to Dutch player Max Euwe in 1935 and regaining it two years later.
Post War Period
After the death of Alekhine, a new World Champion was sought in a tournament of elite players. This was managed by FIDE, who have, since then, controlled the title. The winner of the 1948 tournament, Russian Mikhail Botvinnik, started an era of Soviet dominance in the chess world. Until the end of the Soviet Union, there was only one non-Soviet champion, American Bobby Fisher (champion 1972-1975). Great players, such as Anatoly Karpov and Gary Kasparov, have held the title. The current World Champion is Magnus Carlsen from Norway and Women's World Champion Hou Yifan from China.
In 1927, the Women's World Chess Championship was established; the first champion being Czech-English master Vera Menchik.
Chess World Today
Chess is arguably one of the oldest and most popular mental sports in the world. It is an established part of our modern culture, and it is perceived as being desirable to learn how to play chess and show levels of mastery and skill improvement. The impact of information technology on chess must be acknowledged as highly positive with a resulting higher proliferation of chess information, awareness and playing opportunities globally.
Chess is undoubtedly a sport for everybody and through international and national training programs, for all levels, we will continue to see more players participating and at the same time this will bring with it benefits to both professional and amateur levels. Chess is taught to children in schools around the world and used in armies to train minds of cadets and officers. Many schools hold chess clubs and there are many scholastic tournaments specifically for children.