The special venue of the Hungarian National Gallery recently hosted the fourth Global Chess Festival on October 13, where participants of the event could play among fine art masterpieces spanning hundreds of years. Olympic chess champion Judit Polgar brought together 250 locations across 23 countries from around the world, with representatives from many nations - ranging from India and Chile to China and the US - also taking part in the festival’s programs.
Nearly 100,000 viewers watched Polgar's simultaneous online game on the eve of the event via Twitch TV, which streamed the event online in conjunction with Chess.com. Sam Copeland, a director of the latter, said that simultaneous online streaming tremendous treat for the entire chess community, and Polgar’s dynamic and energy was a blast to see on screen.
It is with the spirit of Polgar’s personal motto, “#Chess Connects Us”, that the fourth Global Chess Festival was held. Chess, the world's oldest board game, was able to show it's many faces during the event - including competitive sports, art and education - proving that chess truly does not have any boundaries. The Budapest-based local event was also joined by venues from across globe, including - among others - the United States, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, India and Nepal. The Netherlands participated with eight locations including the small island of Schiermonnikoog with a tiny population of almost a thousand inhabitants, who renamed the island in celebration of the event to become the Isle of Chess for the day. China was also a major partner of the Global Chess Festival, with 200 locations representing the event.
The stand out event of the festival was the simultaneous match held by Judit and Sofia Polgar, for which hundreds of people applied. Ultimately nearly 50 players sat and played against the two multiple Olympic champions in tandem. All ages were represented by this mix of players, from the retired to the very young, with the central motto for the event strengthened when a visually-impaired little girl sat at the chess table to compare her skills against the Polgar sisters.
The young Argentine Grandmaster, Damian Lemos, also arrived in Budapest at the invitation of the festival, allowing for the most adventurous of players to test their abilities against the champion of Argentina. At the close of the festival, Lemos noted the surprising strength of the Hungarian chess players he was facing, regardless of their age.
The ability for chess to educate was once again highlighted this year, with Judit Polgar’s Chess Palace and Chess Playground educational programs also playing a major role at the festival. These programs were developed for the younger generation to help them tackle the challenges of the 21st century and to teach them how to navigate the digital age and face the constant barrage of information that we are all required to endure on a daily basis.
“Chess is a world, but a precious one, without the lies. It is a pure form of art” - said Arkady Dvorkovich, the newly elected president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), who acknowledged the festival’s motto of connectedness. “It gives us an opportunity to have an honest relationship with others and ourselves. This Festival has the power to gather all the generations, and to bring everyone close to everyone, to meet each other in socializing and to transmit that energy further. The idea that Judit Polgar put into focus, fact that chess have power to connect people, is the guiding principle for all of us.”
Photos by Alina L'Ami and Tibor Erdosi