Chess comes to Marrakech – for a second time

12/30/2010 – Originally the Arabs brought chess to Europe – now France is paying back the debt with a pilot project in Morocco. The French Chess Federation President and vice-President went to Marrakech to distribute 200,000 pamphlets to school children. Their enthusiasm moved the visitors to tears. Jean-Michel Péchiné, editor of Europe Echecs, sent us this moving pictorial.

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Chess comes to Marrakech

By Jean-Michel Péchiné

I would like to present a very small event, but clearly the most emotionally moving ond in my whole year 2010 in chess. We were invited toe Marrakech, Morocco. at the end of December – The President of the French Chess Federation (FFE) Jean-Claude Moingt, vice-President Joanna Pomian (she be the next President), Joel Demumieux, the President of the chess league of Languedoc-Roussillon and Pyrenees-Orientales, and myself, chess historian and editor of the French chess magazine Europe-Echecs.


French chess ambassadors Joanna Pomian and Jean-Claude Moingt with their host
Larbi Houari, organizer of the 1st Festival of Marrakech in June 2010

On Monday the 20th we were taken to see an orphanage and a college in Aït-Ourir, around 40 kilometers outside of Marrakech. It was a pilot project. They are distributing 200,000 chessboards, with the rules of the games printed as a pamphlet, to the pupils of the "South League of Morocco". Together with that was distributed a text I wrote, which was published in French and Arabic, on the subject of what chess owes to the Arabs.


The chess pamphlets were in white for the boys and pink for the girls (click picture to enlarge)

The visit was incredibly emotional. Just take a look on the photos below and try to picture all these young the boys and girls shouting like the crowd in a football stadium. Just because we were there and Larbi Houari and his team were distributing a small pamphlet. Jean-Claude Moingt, Joanna Pomian and myself, we just cried. The smile and joy of little children is sacred!


Jean-Claude Moingt received by Abdelhamid Benjadida, director of Idadia Al Jadida college


A. Benjadida with Jean-Michel Péchiné


Jean-Claude Moingt give a Marrakesh student a quick lesson


Boys looking forward to chess


A classroom full of new chess fans


How the primary school Saghir Hassan welcomed us at 10:15 a.m. (click to enlarge)


The new president of the Club Koutoubia Marrakech, Lamia Alaya (right) and his team came to
help the club Ait Ourir (click image to enlarge)


Three classes of the Moulay Rachid School gather for a group chess photo (click to enlarge)


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