Today, July 20, 2023, we are celebrating our 99th birthday! 

Many of you across the world will celebrate International Chess Day with various activities and happenings all about our beloved game. On this day, we want to reinforce the tradition started in previous years: we ask members of the chess community to teach someone how to play chess. The more, the merrier! Be it your neighbour, niece, colleague or grandfather, let’s make the chess family grow. Don’t forget to share your experience on social media using the hashtag #Internationalchessday. Let’s make our celebrations really big and prove that chess is the most played game in the world!

Why did the United Nations choose exactly July 20 to celebrate chess? It was done to mark the date of the International Chess Federation’s establishment in 1924, so it is also our birthday! Let’s briefly walk through our history and remember all the major milestones that lead us to this day. 

International Chess Federation, or shorter, FIDE (stands for Fédération Internationale des Échecs), is the governing body for the game of chess. What does FIDE do? It organizes major chess events, which form the World Championship Cycle, Chess Olympiads, Rapid and Blitz Championships, tournaments for people with disabilities, veterans, and children, as well as various exhibition and online events. It awards international chess titles, like the coveted Grandmaster, and calculates rating. FIDE creates and implements the rules of chess and standards for tournaments. It is actively involved in social projects and the promotion of chess on the grassroots level. FIDE is recognized by International Olympic Committee and includes as many as 199 national chess federations! Let’s have a closer look. 

FIDE was formed on July 20, 1924, in Paris, France, during the first unofficial Chess Olympiad. It was born at the Town Hall of the IX Arrondissement of Paris (6 Rue Drouot). Fifteen delegates from all over the world signed the proclamation act, and our organization was born.

In 1927, FIDE organized the first Chess Olympiad and the first Women’s World Championship in London. In 1948, FIDE started overseeing the World Chess Championship. Today, both absolute and women’s chess crowns belong to players from China: Ding Liren and Ju Wenjun.

In 1950, FIDE awarded its first Grandmaster title to 27 players. Today, FIDE titles also include International Master, Women’s Grandmaster, Women’s International Master, and lower-level ones like FIDE Master or FIDE Candidates Master.

The first official FIDE rating list came out in 1971. This universal rating system, named after its creator Arpad Elo measures a player’s skill level and tracks their progress over time. New rating lists are out at the beginning of every month, and professionals and amateurs alike are eager to check the new numbers next to their surname. 

In 1999, FIDE was recognized by the International Olympic Committee – a major milestone in the organization’s history. 

The motto of FIDE is “Gens una sumus”, which translates from Latin as “We are one family”. This motto is a reflection of the organization’s vision of chess as a sport that unites people from all over the world. Family means care, and in recent years FIDE’s social projects have become an essential part of the organization’s operations. “Infinite Chess” project introduces the game to children with ASD, “Chess for Freedom” program brings chess behind the bars of prisons, “Chess for Protection” helps refugees find their way with the help of the game. FIDE financially supports its veterans in need and holds competitions for people with disabilities. The first Chess Olympiad for People with Disabilities took place in January-February 2023 in Belgrade. 

Chess has found its place in the ever-changing world of modern technology. Today, FIDE organizes online and hybrid events and implements new technological solutions. In 2023 chess became part of the Olympic Esports Series.

Next year, FIDE will celebrate its 100-year birthday. The International Chess Federation has come a long way since its first steps a century ago. Today, it is based in Switzerland alongside other major sports governing bodies. It encompasses 199 national chess federations, which makes FIDE one of the largest sports federations in the world. 

Throughout its history, FIDE has been instrumental in shaping the world of chess, and we never stop aiming for new heights, serving the game and chess community. 

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