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World Chess Day promotes social inclusion

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By Mercy Kelani

It commemorates a global game that encourages fairness and tolerance.

According to the United Nations; sports, physical activity and arts are capable of changing perceptions, behaviours and prejudices, while serving as an inspiration, destroying racial and political barriers, fighting discrimination and discouraging conflict. It also contributes to the promotion of sustainable development, cooperation, social inclusion, education, peace, solidarity, and health at local, regional and international levels. Chess is considered as one of the oldest, cultural and intellectual games that has a mixture of scientific thinking, sport and features of art.

Affordability and inclusivity are key features of this activity as it can be exercises and played anywhere and by everyone, regardless of age, language barriers, physical ability, gender or social status. It is a globally-played game that encourages fairness, mutual respect and inclusion, with the power to foster a tolerant and understanding atmosphere among people and countries. The game likewise opens doors for significant opportunities in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Chess is described as a strategy board game for two players.

The global game strengthens education, fights for gender equality, ensures empowerment of women and girls, while driving tolerance, inclusion, respect and mutual understanding. It is regarded as a strategy board game for two players with the aim of moving different playing pieces that have individual prescription of possible moves, around a square board to seize the ‘king’ piece of the opponent. Currently, there are more than 2,000 recognisable types of the game. A theory has it that an ancient game that has similarities with chess, called Chaturanga, has its origin in Northern Indian Subcontinent.

Modern chess is said to have originated from Chaturanga, which means ‘four divisions’. These divisions in the olden days’ game referred to infantry, cavalry, elephantry and chariotry. However, the divisions of the modern game are the pawn, knight, bishop and rook. The four divisions in Chaturanga was also said to mean that the game requires four players in order to play. When the game was introduced in Sassanid Persia during 600 CE, it was named Chatrang; later on, its name changed to Shatranj.

July 20 was designated by the General Assembly to mark the day.

On December 12, 2019, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared July 20 of every year as World Chess Day to celebrate the day the International Chess Federation (FIDE) was founded in Paris, in 1924. The initiative of FIDE stated that July 20 has been designated to celebrate the day by players of the game across the globe since 1966. Commemoration of this day recognises the essential role of the FIDE in assisting international cooperation for activities of the game, with the aim of promoting friendly harmony among people around the world.

Also, commemoration of this day is responsible for providing a vital platform that encourages solidarity, dialogue and culture of peace. Traditional games like chess possess significant elements of the day cultures of diverse kinds of people along the Silk Roads. Recurrent interactions and encounters that have been happening along the Silk Roads have offered many opportunities for the widespread of different kinds of traditional games across different regions, even as it enriches different cultures at different levels.

70 percent of adult population has played the game.

Additionally, chess is a mind game that allows for deep scientific thinking which enables responsible action.  Reports have it that about 70 percent of the adult population in the US, UK, Russia, Germany and India has played the game at some point in their lives. However, chess is played more regularly by 605 million adults worldwide and it’s following is growing steadily year by year.

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