“Chess for Social Benefits and Women Inclusion & INFINITE CHESS Evolution” conference, organized by FIDE Social Commission, FIDE Commission for Women’s Chess and French Chess Federation with the support of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), took place on December 01, 2022, in Paris, France. Dedicated to the current and new social chess projects, the conference was held in a hybrid format and brought together by 118 people from 58 countries.
The panel of speakers included Dana Reizniece-Ozola, Deputy Chair of the FIDE Management Board, Eloi Relange, President of the French Chess Federation, Franck Droin, ECU Social Commission Chairman, President of the Health Social Disability Commission of the FFE; Anastasia Sorokina, Chairperson of the FIDE Commission for Women’s Chess, Infinite Chess Project Leader, Abhijit Kunte, 4th grandmaster of India, Coordinator of the Chess Social Projects in the Indian Oil Corporation and coach of the Indian National women team. The speakers exchanged experiences and showcased how chess helps people to improve their well-being and mental health.
You can watch the video from the conference on the FIDE Youtube channel.
“This is already the second social initiative we’ve launched together with French Chess Federation. They say, you need to touch hearts in order to move the brain. I think this is true. Every institution, including International Chess Federation, needs to understand that. There are several very practical reasons. We are in a better position to attract supporters and sponsors to our projects if we can touch their hearts. We can use the same principle to increase the authority and credibility of our organization. But the most important reason is the fact that any international organization or leader who has mandate and power needs to use the time to deliver so that the world becomes a better place,” said Dana Reizniece-Ozola in her welcoming speech.
She was followed by Eloi Relange, President of the French Chess Federation: “I am very happy that this meeting is held in France. FIDE’s values and visions are very similar to the ones of the European Chess Union and of our national chess federation. It is very important to have visions, the team, the projects and the perfect execution. I am sure that this will be the case with the team we have.”
During the event, the preliminary results and the evolution of the pilot FIDE INFINITE CHESS Project (chess for kids with autism spectrum disorder) were announced. According to the survey, chess is a viable medium to improve the social skills of children with autistism spectrum disorder and the quality of their lives.
Among other topics discussed at the conference were other FIDE social initiatives, ICAR Project (International Chess Benefits Assessment Resources) led by Franck Droin, ECU Social Commission Chairman and President of the Health Social Disability Commission of the FFE; Prison to Pride program for Prisoners run by the Indian Oil Corporation; Chess like a tool for social responsibility for Coloured Girls presented by Geraldine Engelman, and others.
On December 05, FIDE Social Commission, FIDE Commission for Women’s Chess and ECU Social Commission, headed by their chairpersons Geir Nesheim, Anastasia Sorokina and Franck Droin, held a meeting where commission members discussed their future joint efforts in promoting social and women chess projects. It was decided to organize one more Chess for Social Benefits and Women Inclusion Conference, a European chess tournament with refugees, and a contest among national federations for the best social initiative.