Kasparov addresses European Parliament to get chess into schools

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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0 | Chess Event Coverage

VIDEO & PHOTO REPORT On Tuesday chess legend Garry Kasparov, together with European Chess Union President Silvio Danailov, presented at the European Parliament the program ‘Chess in European Schools’. The program is designed to promote chess in schools throughout Europe by offering chess curriculums, chess materials, chess teachers and communication material to encourage and motivate children to discover and learn the game. ChessVibes was in Brussels to capture the day on photo and video.

On June 9th we reported about the launch of the European branch of the Kasparov Chess Foundation. The foundation attempts to have the European Union include the game of chess in its education system. "It is our ambition to further realize the dream of bringing chess into classrooms far and wide so that everyone may enjoy the benefits the game offers," Kasparov said back in June.

On Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 came the next step. In a public hearing, Kasparov presented his program ‘Chess in European Schools’ to the European Parliament. The presentation lasted for about 45 minutes, and part of it consisted of a Powerpoint presentation which listed the benefits of chess for school children. Kasparov was assisted by European Chess Union President Silvio Danailov because the development of the program will be carried out by the Foundation as a joint project with the ECU and the Kasparov Chess Foundation.

Video report

Kasparov: “With this proposal it is our ambition to realize the dream of bringing chess into classrooms so that everyone may enjoy the benefits the game of chess offers. The program proposal holds all the elements needed to come to a solid chess curriculum adapted to the needs of the different European countries. I’m also very happy to announce that will be adding two new Kasparov Chess Foundations early 2012, in South America and in Africa. By adding these two continents we will start having a global reach and impact worldwide.”

The whole meeting was held under the high patronage of the President of the European Parliament Professor Jerzy Buzek and hosted by Slavi Binev, Bulgarian member of the European Parliament. He said: “I was very excited when we talked about the ‘Chess in School’ project with Garry Kasparov and Silvio Danailov for a first time. This is a brilliant idea. The indisputable authority of the best chess player ever and his team and a prominent manager in the chess world is the bedrock of the successful future of this project”.

The open hearing was also attended by Judit Polgar, who is board member of the ECU's Chess in Schools Commission. Afterwards she joined Kasparov for a simultaneous exhibition in the President's private saloon on the 12th floor, where the two grandmasters played against 14 children. At the end of the session Kasparov joined a toast with Danailov, Binev and Jan Callewaert, co-founder and member of the board of the Kasparov Chess Foundation Europe.

The final part of the day was dedicated to a half-hour press conference, which was attended by about fifty journalists, including the ChessVibes editor-in-chief. I asked one question to both Judit Polgar and to Garry Kasparov. 'Ladies first', I asked Polgar about her personal commitment to the subject. To Mr Kasparov I asked how he would reply to Parliament Members who would raise the question: 'Why chess and not go, draughts or other mind sports?' Both replies can be found in the video report above.

It remains to be seen whether Kasparov's project stands a chance, and whether the EU will open its wallet in the near future. One thing is certain: a long and slow process is expected; the first step is that the plan is officialy brought into the Parliament by one or more of its members.

The European Parliament room in the Paul-Henri Spaak building of the Espace Léopold in Brussels...

...where the Kasparov Chess Foundation Europe addressed the parliament...

...in front of quite a big number of members and invited people...

...including GM Judit Polgar (Board Member of the ECU's Chess in Schools Commission) and IM Malcolm Pein (actively involved in the UK Chess in Schools project)

Kasparov behind a Mac laptop, supporting his presentation verbally to the Parliament...

...and later that day at a press conference

In the afternoon a reception and simultaneous exhibition was organized...

...with both Kasparov and Polgar, here discussing their strategies, playing

In the end it was decided, a bit surprisingly, not to alternate moves but to cut the group in half - Kasparov would play against one side, Polgar against the other side

Kasparov started fast, moving fast and walking fast, as if he was in a hurry to catch a train...

...but soon some kids forced him to think a bit more

Parents, press and parliament members followed the action with great interest...

 

...which meant excellent promotion for chess in general

Polgar, not long after her successful World Cup, visibly enjoyed playing the kids 

...as did Kasparov

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