Chess and Art in Dnipropetrovsk

5/16/2012 – It is hard to pronounce, but a great place live, study, or go out. And for chess. The industrial metropolis in southern Ukraine has just staged a Week of Chess and Art, initiated by Irina Filatova, the sister of the main sponsor of the World Championship in Moscow. Students of Dnipropetrovsk art schools presented their work on chess at the Historical Museum. WIM Olena Boytsun reports.

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The Week of Chess Art in Dnipropetrovsk

By Olena Boytsun, Marketing Director of the Ukrainian Chess Federation
Photos by Daria Orljanskaya and Dmitriy Markin

In the chess world I have met only one non-Russian speaking person who could pronounce the name of my native city, Dnipropetrovsk, correctly. It was Magnus Carlsen. Another person who surprised me deeply by simply knowing the name of the city, although failing to pronounce it fluently, was Frederic Friedel, who got it from a Tom Lehrer song.


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The Dnipropetrovsk region is located in south-eastern Ukraine. The region area is 31,900 sq. km, the population amounts to 3,476,200 people (the Metropolitan area is just over a million). The region has a high industrial potential and represents about 17% of the total industry production of Ukraine. Having spent the first 20 years of my life there, I can say that it is pleasant for living, perfect for studying, good for going out and more than suitable for work.

Although I have in the meantime moved to the capital of Ukraine – Kyiv – I still have strong connections with my native region. In Dnipropetrovsk there are three chess schools and a chess club, many talented children, a strong regional chess federation and unique people who can make anything come true.


Press conference at the information agency "Most": Olena Boytsun, Head of the Sport department
of Dnipropetrovsk region Alexander Pshenichnikov, one of the main organizers Irina Filatova

In autumn 2011 I was contacted by Irina Filatova, the sister of Andrey Filatov, who is the main sponsor of the World Championship Match between Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand in Moscow.

Andrey and Irina were born in Dnipropetrovsk region, and Andrey Filatov (above) started his chess path in the Dnipropetrovsk chess school #9, where several years later I too studied chess. Irina turned out to be a bright and open-minded person. Being artistic by nature, she came out with the idea that was developed further into a bright event for the whole Dipropetrovsk region – “The Week of Chess Art”.

This event was fully supported by the Governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Oleksandr Vilkul (above), and so a unique project was organized, which consisted of a number of sport and intellectual activities, with the participation of more than 5000 players from the Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine, Russia, Belorus and Israel.


GM Alik Gershon at the start of the simul (with FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov)

One of the interesting activities was a simultaneous game on 80 boards with GM Alik Gershon, who is the holder of the Guinness World Records certificate and also a native of Dnipropetrovsk. The session lasted more than six hours: the players of Dnipropetrovsk were able to beat the grandmaster seven times. 17 games were drawn, Alik won 56.


The simul master playing eighty opponents in a display that lasted over six hours


Such an event is tough on the opponents as well, whether they are elderly...


... or fledgling chess players just out of the nest

The governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region Oleksandr Vilkul said: "The economy of developed countries is called “the economy of knowledge”. In global competition those countries will win that appreciate and develop the intellect of their citizens. For Dnipropetrovsk, which is one of the leading regions in Ukraine, the priority is to develop intellectual skills. The International Week of Chess art will be one of the most significant events in the history of the region".

Oleksandr Vilkul is a very interesting personality and, as it turns out, a strong chess player. He won the title of the Candidate Master of Sport in chess as a child, during his school years in Krivoy Rog, Dnipropetrovsk, and had brilliant prospects to continue his chess education in Moscow. However he decided to concentrate on general studies. The results proved to be good, as Dnipropetrovsk under his leadership has become one of the leading regions of Ukraine, and Oleksandr himself was nominated “Person of the Year” at the Ukrainian national contest in March 2012.


The Dnipropetrovsk Historical Museum, where the chess week was held


A chess theme dance greets visitors in the foyer of the museum

In the Week of Chess Art, which was held from the 19th of April until the 16th of May 2012 in the Dnipropetrovsk Historical Museum, the exhibition “Move by Move” is especially interesting. It is devoted to the history of chess in the Dnipropetrovsk region and highlights not only the activities of the local administration but also the visits of such famous chess players as Jose Raul Capablanca, Mikhail Botvinnik and Mikhail Tal.

For temporary exhibition in the Museum the Ukrainian Chess Federation provided the Hamilton-Russell Cup (above), which is the main prize of the World Chess Olympiad. It was made from the personal funds of the President of the British Chess Federation Federick Hamilton-Russell for the first World Chess Olympiad, held in 1927 in London. The Ukrainian chess team won the Cup at the Chess Olympiad 2010 in Khanty-Mansiysk.


The opening of the Week of Chess Art in the Dnipropetrovsk Historical Museum

In the audience: FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzhinov, the Governor of the Dnipropetrovsk Region Oleksander Vilkul, Vice-Governor Maria Pustova, Head of the International Cooperation Commission of the Ukrainian Chess Federation Olena Boytsun, Director of the FIDE Moscow office Berik Balgabaev.

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was present at the opening of the Week of Chess Art. At the Diorama "Battle for Dnepr" (above) the exhibition "I compare life with a chess board" was opened, where pupils of Dnipropetrovsk art schools presented their work on the subject of chess.

As a result of the exhibition the catalogue of artists’ works was published, coordinated by Irina Filatova. The young artist Polina Usenko presented her work “Chess Maharajah” to the FIDE President:

It was created using an interesting technique of combining graphics, pastels and gouache on black paper. Polina is a daughter of Irina Filatova. She is a talented young artist, studies in the United Kingdom and plans to apply to the Royal Academy of Art.

Many other events were organized within the Week of Chess Art, among others an international chess composition tournament at the National Center for Youth Aerospace Education, an Internet competition for solving chess problems, a blitz tournament for veterans in Shevchenko Park, etc.


Ilyumzhinov and Oleksander Vilkul

The traditional school team tournament “Memorial of A.V. Sinitsyn” also took place during the Week of Chess Art. For many years the event has been financially supported by Andrey Filatov. The children’s tournament brought together teams from Russia (St. Petersburg, Orel), Belarus (Minsk, Gomel), and Ukraine (Donetsk, Lugansk, Poltava region, and ten clubs from Dnipropetrovsk). The winners of the tournament was the team of Sports School 9 (Dnipropetrovsk), the second place was taken by the team from a school named B. Spassky (St. Petersburg), the third place by a team from Lugansk. As an additional prize all winning teams get an opportunity to attend the Anand-Gelfand match in Moscow.

The Dnipropetrovsk region is an interesting and strong place to hold international chess events. Maybe, the name of the city may seem difficult to pronounce, but chess players have been never afraid of this kind of challenge.

Selection of TV reports

WIM Olena Boytsun works as Marketing and International Affairs Director at the Ukrainian Chess Federation. Olena is also member of the Board and Development Director of the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP), International organizer and a Councilor of the FIDE Events Commission. An international economist by education, she is the first person, born in Dnipropetrovsk region, to study at the University of Oxford (2006). Olena speaks five languages and is an author of two fiction books and more than 80 articles on chess.

Copyright Boytsun/ChessBase


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