International Chess Federation
Tuesday, 13 Apr 2021 14:11
"Chess for Freedom" program launched

As we always stress, promoting chess as a tool for education is one of FIDE’s top priorities. However, the scope of work in this field is not limited to chess in school programs, and there are many other opportunities. In recent years we have witnessed the successful introduction of chess in prisons, through different educative programs in Russia, England, the USA, Brazil, Italy and Spain, with very positive outcomes. 

These experiences show that chess improves behaviour, helping to reduce inmate violence and developing communication skills while promoting positive use of leisure time. Chess also drastically improves the decision-making capabilities of a group of people that, very often, due to the lack of opportunities and access to proper education, has ended up in jail after making a wrong choice in life. Besides, the game has a positive impact on the inmates’ overall health, fighting depression, stress and anxiety, and motivating them to change for the better. 

As a result, chess greatly contributes to efforts towards rehabilitation, and some studies have already proven it to reduce reoffending. It can be potentially life-changing, as many testimonies show. In prisons, just as in wider society, the impact of sport and games can be far-reaching. 

Aiming to support and promote this line of work, FIDE and the Cook County Sheriff's Office (Chicago, USA) have signed a cooperation agreement, and together we are launching the “Chess for Freedom” program. This project, under the patronage of the 12th world champion Anatoly Karpov, will kick off with an online conference and an exhibition tournament with four participant countries, scheduled for May 11th. 

The conference will feature FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, the 12th World Chess Champion Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov, and Tom Dart, Cook County Sheriff, among other distinguished guest speakers. Starting at 4:00 pm CET (9:00 am US Central Time), it will be broadcast on the FIDE YouTube Channel. To take part in this conference, please fill out the registration form

If any of our readers know about any chess in prisons initiative or is willing to volunteer and start one, please get in touch with the FIDE Social Commission: We would like to hear about your experience, offer guidance and support where needed, and stimulate more research and papers being published on this topic.