Chess as a game of strategy and wits has long been considered to be the thinking game. It is a wonderful game to play anytime, anywhere, and with almost everyone.
July 20 is here and for those who are not aware, that’s International Chess Day.
This day is celebrated every year as the founding day of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) which marks its 97th anniversary this year.
According to chess.com, on this day, chess enthusiasts from all over the world celebrate the game. Players, clubs, and organizations from around the world create and participate in events to celebrate this remarkable game.
Alain Patience Niyibizi, FIDE Arbiter and the President of Kigali Chess Academy says an online blitz was started on July 19 and concludes today, July 20.
“During this blitz, a chess player will have ten minutes and can play four rounds per day. The winners will be given prizes including medals, WiFi devices and airtime bundles proudly sponsored by Airtel,” he said.
“Also, the world chess cup is currently ongoing in Sochi, Russia with the best world players featuring, so I think every chess player will have their eyes on the broadcasting platforms.”
Niyibizi revealed that usually if it wasn’t Covid-19, on this day, chess players in Rwanda would meet physically and play a few over-the-board blitz (speed) games with friends and try to teach other people how to play chess as much as they can.
However, he recognises that lockdown can help chess lovers sharpen their brains by concentrating and learning new chess variations and topics since chess is wide.
“Chess can help anyone at any age group whether you are a kid or in your 80s. Some of the benefits of chess are critical thinking, time management, planning skills, as well as improving memory and focus visualization. I believe everyone needs that,” he said.
Marie-Faustine Shimwa, a former woman national chess champion, said that International Chess Day is a special occasion that chess players use to make their communities aware of chess, its values and benefits.
“In our region, the awareness of this game is still at a low level compared to other countries in the world. To give my contribution, I use social media as a medium of conveying my message regarding chess,” she said.
She added: “Even though I enjoy chess when I play it on a physical chessboard, I am also happy that there are online platforms that are helping me during this lockdown. I keep enjoying the game in one way or another.”
Rongin Munyurangabo, the reigning male national champion, said that for him, International Chess Day is a day to learn and teach his younger siblings about chess.
“At home, I am celebrating this day by teaching my younger brothers and sister to play chess and telling them more about this day. We will play online chess games at home as usual. During this time of lockdown, we play a lot of online games because it is an easy way,” he said.