Marking World Chess Day on Tuesday, the UN is celebrating the fact that while COVID-19 has forced most sports to scale down, this ancient game of intellect, not brute strength, has demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability throughout months of lockdown worldwide.
Games and sports of all kind, have always helped reduce anxieties, improve mental health, and survive times of crisis.
Over the past few months, the overall interest in chess has reportedly doubled with more players than ever playing in events online.
A combination of strategic and scientific thinking, combined with elements of pure art, chess is one of the most cultural of games handed down over generations, the UN recognizes.
Affordable and inclusive, chess can be played anywhere and played by all – across the barriers of language, age, gender, physical ability and social status.
Because it is a global game that promotes fairness and mutual respect, it can contribute to an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding among peoples and nations, according to the UN.
And chess also offers important opportunities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including by strengthening education, realizing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
With the start of the Olympics in Tokyo just days away, the UN credits sport, arts and physical activity with the power to change perceptions and prejudices.
The world body also sees them as inspiring people, breaking down racial and political barriers, combating discrimination and defusing conflict.
Therefore, according to the Organization, they contribute to peace, cooperation, solidarity and health at local, regional and international levels.
Designating the day
On 12 December 2019, to mark the date of the establishment of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) in Paris in 1924, the General Assembly proclaimed 20 July as World Chess Day.
The UN’s designation of the day will not only recognize the important role of the FIDE in supporting international cooperation for chess activity and aiming to improve friendly harmony among all peoples of the world, but also to provide an important platform to foster dialogue, solidarity and culture of peace.
Interesting chess facts
- Some 605 million adults play chess regularly.
- Mathematically, there are more possible outcomes in a chess game, than there are atoms in the universe, as observed from earth.
- About 70 per cent of adults in Germany, India, Russia, United Kingdom and United States have played chess at some point.
- Despite the complexity of the game, it is possible to checkmate an opponent in chess, in just two moves.