Multiple Olympic champion’ Judit Polgar hosts the fourth annual Global Chess Festival on October 13th
The event is being joined by hundreds of venues worldwide.
“Chess connects us,” says Judit Polgar, her personal motto remaining a constant throughout her chess career. This year it remains especially true, however, since for the fourth time she organises the Global Chess Festival as it takes place on an international scale, even garnering praise from famed Italian singer and passionate chess player Andrea Bocelli. Though the event will be hosted in Polgar’s hometown of Budapest, dozens of countries from around the world will be taking part in the celebration of the world’s oldest board game. China in particular is set to play a prominent role in the festival as part of a collaboration with Polgar, whose educational programs Chess Palace and Chess Playground are being introduced into Chinese schools soon.
The day before the festival, Global Chess Festival Online will host a 24-hour event organized by the world's top chess website, chess.com. As part of this competition, at 18.30 representatives of 20 participating countries will take part in a two-hour simultaneous game.
The Budapest events of the festival will take place in the Hungarian National Gallery, which itself represents an important thematic ideal running through the event. This year the Global Chess Festival will celebrate artists that have been inspired by the values of chess in their own creations. For this reason Polgar has created the Goodwill Ambassador of Artistic Values of Chess award, which she will present to international artists of varying creative endeavours whose work celebrate the values of chess. Yoko Ono is one such artist that will be receiving the award, alongside Ono’s creative collaborator Sam Havadtoy. Chess was a theme of the pair’s artistic work together, with 1966’s Play It With Trust being the most famous and provocative use of the game in Ono’s work. The piece leveraged an all-white chess set, emphasizing the artist’s anti-war sentiments and demonstrated her questioning of the essence of the game, of competition, and of opposition.
For her artistic work surrounding the game of chess, Yoko Ono will be presented with the award in New York at the beginning of November. Besides Yoko Ono and Sam Havadtoy, additional honours for the award are being given to Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogányi, French composer Jason Kouchak, (who will play on the piano at the Opening Ceremony with the performances of ‘1000 Faces of Chess’ and the ‘Music and Mosaic’) and the Chilean singer Juga (who will give an exceptional insight by singing and performing her chess-related compositions, ‘Oh Capablanca’ and ‘Isolated Pawn’).
"All chess players are artists," was Marcel Duchamps’ famous quote, and it’s with that sentiment that the location of the Hungarian National Gallery becomes all the more integral. Adventurous visitors will be able to test their skills among the masterpieces of Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka, and will even have the opportunity to go head-to-head with the young Argentine Grandmaster Damian Lemos who is arriving in Budapest at the invitation of the festival.
The international representatives aren’t limited to Lemos in Budapest, however, with amateur and professional chess players from across the globe joining the event. India, China, Botswana, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Bahrain, Nepal, Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia, Spain, USA, Canada, Slovenia and Serbia will all have representation from some of the best chess players in their respective countries, but special mention goes to Holland and the small island of Schiermonnikoog: it has been announced that the island of only a thousand inhabitants will also celebrate the Global Chess Festival. As part of this Schiermonnikoog will be named Isle of Chess for the day, with every local child being taught to play chess in the future.
Particular mention should go to China, however, who will be the top connected participant of the Global Chess Festival with nearly 200 locations taking part in the event. The emphasis of this will be placed on the teaching capabilities of chess, in line with the cooperation between Polgar after the grandmaster’s educational programs Chess Palace and Chess Playground were introduced from September into dozens of schools in the country.
In fact, those confident enough will even have the opportunity to take on the grandmaster herself. By registering in advance, brave players can play against Judit and Sofia Polgar - also a double chess champion and international grandmaster - during the Global Chess Festival, where the two sisters will play simultaneous games against those who sign up. In addition to this, children will be able to test their skills in the Szamos Chess Palace Cup as well as at the Future Champions tournament where talented competitive chess players can prove themselves on an international level. Adults will not be overlooked, either, since a special Chess Challenge event has been arranged where they will have the chance to compete against one another.
It is with this sense of chess connecting people that world renowned Italian singer Andrea Bocelli has come out to express his support for Judit Polgar and her desire to bring people from across different genders, age, social status or beliefs together through chess. “Chess is war without massacre, fighting against errors,” wrote Bocelli in his letter to Polgar, “the culture of the soul, the power of intelligence over force.”
Bocelli is himself a passionate chess player, despite unfortunately losing his sight at a young age. “Chess is a very pleasant pastime, a gym to train and exercise the mind,” he said, adding that the game is “highly recommended for children”. But Bocelli’s passion for the game extends beyond the clear benefits, and something more philosophical. “Chess is also an extraordinary metaphor of existential order. In my much more modest experience, I can say that chess practice has helped to form the clear conviction that nothing in this world happens by chance. And that luck, in life as in chess, is not part of the game.”