Danailov and Topalov on tour

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage

Yesterday ECU President Silvio Danailov and grandmaster Veselin Topalov finished a small European tour to promote the "Chess in schools" project, a cooperation between the European Chess Union and the Kasparov Chess Foundation. The two visited Vienna, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Faroe Islands and Oslo.

Topalov during a clock simul in Vienna | All photos © Schach als Chance

The tour started with a seminar held on April 27th in Vienna, Austria. Holding the subtitle "Translating Political Support to Funding for Projects and Improving Existing Programmes", the strategy seminar had participants from eight countries. The speakers came from four different countries and presented four different perspectives.

First was Silvio Danailov, President of the European Chess Union, who spoke on “What Politicians think about Chess in Schools”. He reflected on his experience as a lobbyist for chess in schools during the successful campaign to get the European Parliament's support.

Politicians often tell you that they support your cause and forget about it the next minute,

said Danailov. Eventually 415 MEP signatures were collected in March for the Written Declaration 50/2011 for the implementation of the "Chess in schools" program among the schools in the European Union. (The needed number was 378 signatures – 50%+1 from the total number of 754 MEPs.)

Danailov pointed out that the support was huge in Eastern Europe and in Spain but that Germany, Italy, France and the UK were much more difficult. Only a third of the delegates from the four biggest countries signed.

The seminar also included speeches by Jan Callewaert, the President of the Kasparov Chess Foundation Europe and sponsor of the succesful EU campaign, Malcolm Pein, CEO of Chess in Schools and Communities, Hermann Zemlicka, President of the Chess Federation of Upper Austria and Stanislav Vlcek, the School Chess Coordinator for Western Slovakia of the Slovak Chess Federation.

The seminar was run by the Austrian charity Spielend Schlauer and embedded within the Vienna Children Chess Festival. This was a one day event, with about a hundred children who played chess at one of the most prestigeous locations of the Austrian capital, the museum Albertina.

Just outside the Albertina, children played chess with each other and with the mysterious Chessman...

...and did not always need a board!

Inside, Veselin Topalov played a clock simul. His opponents were eight top juniors (U18) from Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic (Tadeas Kriebel, pictured right) and Slovakia (Juraj Druska, left of Kriebel)

 After winning a close and exciting match with 5-3, Topalov mixed with Vienna children...

...and enjoyed it as much as the kids did



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The next day Danailov and Topalov continued their European promotial tour in Cardiff, Wales, also in order to promote the "Chess in Schools" program. While the ECU President met with officials, Topalov played chess again: a simul against 25 players that took about 3.5 hours. Amongst the group playing Topalov were two current British Girls Champions U9 and U15 Stephanie Du Toit and Megan Owens, who recently won a chess scholarship to attend the prestigious Millfield School in Somerset where she is coached by an International Master.

On April 29th the tour continued to Edinburgh, Scotland. There, in the second oldest chess club in the world (the oldest is in Zurich) Topalov played a simul against 20 local players. IM Andrew Greet, the 2010 Scottish Champion, was the only player to win. Draws were scored by GM Jacob Aagaard, Hugh Brechin, Adam Bremner, Roberta Brunello, Robert Lawson and Boris Mitrovic while Topalov won 14 games.

On Monday Danailov and Topalov went up further north: to the Faroe Islands. They met with Prime Minister Kaj Leo Johannesen, who promised to give full support to the "Chess in Schools" program. Johannesen is big chess lover and former goalkeeper for the Faroe Islands national football team. The tour finished on May 2nd in Oslo, Norway.

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