Two teams from India and another two from Mongolia, and one each from Israel, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Hungary, Czech Republic, USA, Peru and Spain will compete in the on-site final of the Expo Dubai 2020 World School Internet Chess Tournament, organised by the Spanish Pavilion, in which 2,600 teenagers from 54 countries in 283 teams took part in the online phase.
The participants received a visit from the world champion, Magnus Carlsen (Norway), who travelled to the Spanish Pavilion after participating in the press conference to officially present the World Chess Tournament, which starts today in the DEC of Expo 2020 Dubai until 16 December. During his visit to the Pavilion, Carlsen greeted all the children participating in the tournament and took photographs with them. Meanwhile Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia), a great contender for the world championship, also shared a few minutes with the children participating in the tournament and took part in a group photograph with them.
For her part, the best chess player in history, Judit Polgar (Hungary), officially kicked off the Spain phase of the World School Chess Tournament by taking the ceremonial kick-off in the first game at the Dubai World Expo Pavilion. The competition will take place over the next few days. The closing ceremony of the tournament will take place on 29 November.
Another special note of the day was the participation in the press conference of the world professional chess tournament of one of the players of the Spanish team, Laura Aguirre (Torrelavega Chess School), who had the opportunity to ask Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi a question during the press conference. Her question was: Why are there so few women in professional chess tournaments? If the number of women in chess competitions increased, would a woman be a good candidate for the title of World Champion? Magnus replied that "it's very difficult to answer this question in a couple of sentences, I would say that some of the factors, mainly cultural, are what bring us to this situation. What I have seen is that young women enjoy chess just as much as boys, and this is something that has to be communicated as well. For her part, Niepómniaschi said: "I don't see any difference, although we don't see many women in competitions and in the rankings, this is something that can change at any moment, there are women who are already doing a great job in the chess world, it's a matter of time before they become world champions".
The twelve teams (comprising five official members and four substitutes) will be divided into two groups of six to play a one-round league. Among these 108 players will be two of the world's most promising chess players, India's Rameshababu Praggnanandhaa, 16, and Dommaraju Gukesh, 15. Spain is represented in this tournament by the team from the Municipal Chess School of Torrelavega (Cantabria).
"Achieving 2,600 players under the age of 16 from 54 countries in 2020, with most of the world's schools closed, was not easy," recalls Leontxo García, Chess Commissioner of Spain. "But it is the only sport that can be played online, and that helped us a lot in the middle of the pandemic," he adds. The technical director of the tournament is Marcelino Sión; and Javier Pérez Llera is the main arbiter, under the supervision of the executive commissioner, Carmen Bueno.
'Intelligence for Life' is the motto of the Spanish Pavilion at the Dubai Expo, which opened on 1 October and will close on 31 March 2022. And chess is the activity with the most space dedicated to it in the Pavilion: a 22-metre-long panel summarising the history of chess as a link between Arab and Spanish cultures - Arabic chess arrived in the 8th century in Spain, where modern chess was created at the end of the 15th century -, a giant floor board and several tables so that visitors can play games. Chess as an educational tool, an area in which Spain is at the forefront of the world, will also be present at the seminar on education co-organised by the Spanish Pavilion from 14 to 16 December.
The Spanish Pavilion, managed by Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) - the public company responsible for Spain's presence at Universal and International Exhibitions - at Expo Dubai 2020 launched the Expo Dubai World School Internet Tournament in 2020, which has been disseminated through various media and social networks.
The international online chess platform Chess24 is in charge of the telematic phase of the tournament and is already offering various training activities to the registered teams.
Chess is a universal game that the Arabs brought to Spain in the 8th century, and from here it spread all over the world. The aim is to unite minds and break down walls, taking advantage of the universal language of chess, making our own the motto of its International Federation (FIDE): GENS UNA SUMUS (we are one family).
In recent years, chess has been gaining momentum as a training tool at different levels of general education, a primary objective of this initiative being to promote educational chess, in line with the motto of the Spanish pavilion, 'Intelligence for life'.