Chilean Government, FIDE Sign Social Chess Initiative Agreement

Chilean Government, FIDE Sign Social Chess Initiative Agreement

| 11 | Chess Event Coverage

The Chilean Ministry of Social Development and the World Chess Federation (FIDE) have signed an agreement to facilitate the integration of children, youth and vulnerable senior citizens through the game of chess. The project involves a U.S. $85,000 investment.

The project between the Chilean government and FIDE aims to promote strategic thinking and intergenerational exchange in vulnerable sectors. Especially people in communities affected by poverty and drugs will be targeted. 

The idea behind the project is to bring chess teaching/learning to children age 8-13 and older people, over 55. Young people, age 4-17, will be trained to work as volunteers in this project. The government will offer a financial incentive.

FIDE Vice President Beatriz Marinello, the chairperson of the FIDE Social Action Commission, helped facilitate the relations between FIDE and the Chilean government. She called it “a unique project that has never been implemented before in the world.”

Leontxo Garcia, an expert on chess in Latin America, said that Marinello “deserves a lot of credit,” as “she has been working for it for years.” However, he disagrees with her on the project being unique.

“Not very far from Santiago, in Uruguay, the government is implementing several social applications of chess through the national chess federation, one of the world's best on that field. Judit Polgar is also doing important things with the direct support of the Hungarian government. And the Russian Chess Federation has big government supported projects.”

Unique or not is just quibbling over semantics; the fact is that there are many social projects connected to chess worldwide these days. Garcia: “If we talk about social applications of chess not directly supported by the national government but by other public or private sponsors, then we have many examples.”

Spain is the number-one country in that area. Besides Chile, the FIDE Social Action Commission currently has projects in Africa, Trinidad & Tobago and Nepal.

This week a partnership between the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and the Monsanto Fund was announced to help support the introduction of chess as a tool to enhance math and science education in rural communities surrounding St. Louis.

For the project in Chile, the Ministry of Social Development works together with the Social Investment Fund FOSIS; the National Service for Senior Citizens, SENAMA; and the National Youth Institute. All institutions were represented when the alliance was sealed.

After the agreement was signed, officials and about 30 participants, seniors, youth and children participated in a game of human chess, at the Plaza de la Constitucion in Santiago.

The Minister of Social Development, Marcos Barraza, was quoted in the press release: ”We all help build Chile, and with initiatives such as the Social Initiative Chess Project, it helps us make this happen every day, expanding the possibilities of development and integration between generations.”

Barraza sees the project as a way “to promote equal opportunities for people and vulnerable communities.”

Pilot programs will be implemented in the regions of Valparaíso, Tarapacá, and Los Lagos, with nine communities in total, for about eight months. The project will be documented “so that Chile may serve as an example for other nations that would like to reproduce it,” said Marinello.

More information on the project in Chili can be found here and no doubt soon on the website of the FIDE Social Action Commission.

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