International Chess Federation
Sunday, 05 Nov 2023 12:59
FIDE Executive Director visits East African counties

In October 2023, the Executive Director of the International Chess Federation Victor Bologan visited Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles, where he held several high-level meetings with local authorities and chess officials and gave simuls to enthusiasts of the game.

Victor Bologan used these visits as an opportunity to discuss further chess development in the region, reiterating FIDE's support for teaching chess in schools, social initiatives, professional chess events and increasing the level of chess among the local players. The main topics discussed during the visits also included participation in various online FIDE training programs for players, arbiters and trainers from Africa, the vital necessity of inviting at least one strong player/coach per country to help increase the overall chess level of national teams, youth, and trainers, and many others. At the meetings with local sports officials, the introduction of chess into the 2027 Indian Ocean Games and the African Games 2024 was also discussed.

The first stop was Antananarivo, Madagascar, on October 18, where Bologan played a blitz tournament with local players and met the officials of the National Chess Federation. Since the country will host the Zone 4.4 championship in January 2024, the organization of this event was also discussed during the meeting. FIDE Executive Director has also visited an island Nosy Be for a chess simul and a master class for the local club players.

The next stop was Mauritius Islands, where Victor Bologan met Secretary General of the Mauritius Olympic Committee Hedley Han, the Honourable Minister of Youth, Sports and Leisure of the country Stephane Toussaint, the President of the Mauritius Chess Federation Hurrynarain Bhowany, its Vice-president Patrick Li Ying and Treasurer Jay Andhin. The agenda of the visits included the discussion of various initiatives on how to promote chess on the island and in the region. Among them was an ambitious project to mix tourism and chess and to organize a circuit that includes Nosy Be (Madagascar), Mauritius and Seychelles, with an open tournament on each island, connecting it with the already existing tournament in Reunion (France). Another idea was to organize a hybrid-rated tournament for the players of the Indian Ocean countries such as Maldives, Seychelles, Comoros, Mauritius, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Reunion (France).

Following the meeting, GM Victor Bologan played simul with the 20 best players from Mauritius at the Cafe Lux, Bagatelle Mall. Gavin Anderson, the reigning Mauritian chess champion, was the only player to avoid defeat and held his game to a draw. 

On October 29, the FIDE Executive Director visited Seychelles, where he had a meeting with the officials of the Seychelles Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association, where they discussed the possibility of chess inclusion on the list of sports disciplines for the Indian Ocean Island Games (IOIG). After the official part of the visit, Bologan played simul with local chess enthusiasts.

When asked about his impressions after the visits and the future of chess in the region, the FIDE Executive Director said: "For such small countries, the level of chess is quite decent, but of course, it can be improved. We have some examples to follow, like Iceland, where they have only 370,000 citizens but as many as seven grandmasters. I know that the federations are working hard to make progress. And the reason I am here is to see how we can help to improve the level of chess."