“Chess for Freedom” online conference announced

by ChessBase
5/7/2021 – The International Chess Federation will hold an online conference dubbed “Chess for Freedom” on May 11th at 15:30 CET (8:30 US Central Time). The conference will present a newly launched project focused on introducing chess to prisons. This conference will feature FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, the 12th World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, and other invited guests.

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Press release by the International Chess Federation

The upcoming Online Conference “Chess for Freedom” is scheduled for May 11th at 15:30 CET (8:30 US Central Time). 

This conference will feature FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, the 12th World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, and other invited guests. You can check the detailed program in the table below. 

The conference will be broadcast live on FIDE’s YouTube channel. Additionally, federation officers, journalists, and members of the penitentiary administration and policymakers have the possibility to join the Zoom call and ask questions to the lecturers. In order to join via Zoom, you would need to request access using this registration form.  

If you experience any problem during the registration, you have any question, or you require further assistance, please contact the FIDE Social Commission at socialchess@fide.com.

chess, prisons, Chicago Tribune

Photo: Alex Garcia, Chicago Tribune

Chess in prisons 

In recent years, we have witnessed the successful introduction of chess in prisons through different educative programs in the USA, Armenia, Norway, Russia, England, Brazil, Italy and Spain, with very positive outcomes. 

In prisons, just as in wider society, the impact of sport and games can be far-reaching. The experiences referred above demonstrate that chess improves behaviour, helping to reduce inmate violence and developing communication skills, while promoting positive use of leisure time. Chess also drastically improves the decision-making capabilities of a group of people that, very often due to the lack of opportunities and access to proper education, has ended up in jail after making a wrong choice in life. Besides, the game has a positive impact on the inmates’ overall health, fighting depression, stress and anxiety, and motivating them to change for the better. 

As a result, chess greatly contributes to efforts towards rehabilitation, and some studies have already proven it to reduce reoffending. It can be potentially life-changing, as many testimonies show. 

With the aim to support and promote this line of work, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) and the Cook County Sheriff's Office (Chicago, USA) have signed a cooperation agreement, and together we are launching the “Chess for Freedom” program. This project, under the patronage of the 12th world champion Anatoly Karpov, will kick off with an online conference and an exhibition tournament with four participant countries, scheduled for May 11th. Later on, in October, we plan on holding a much larger competition with the participation of tens of prisons.  

These are the first events planned for 2021: 

11 May 2021

8:30 US Central Time / 15:30 CET

The first FIDE Online Conference “Chess for Freedom” for officials, authorities, scholars etc. FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, the 12th World Chess Champion Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov and Tom Dart, Cook County Sheriff, will be the guests of honour for the conference, among other distinguished guest speakers. 

Invitational Online Chess Exhibition Tournament for Prisoners. Teams from USA, Russia, Armenia, Spain, Germany and Australia have been invited (TBC). 

13-14 October 2021 (TBC)

The First Intercontinental Online Chess Championship for Prisoners 2021. This will be a continuation of the international championship first held in 2019, where we expect to involve tens of teams from all the continents. 

Both the conference and the chess tournament will be broadcast live on FIDE’s YouTube channel. Additionally, federation officers, as well as members of the penitentiary administration and policymakers, have the possibility to join the Zoom call using the link above, so they can ask questions and share their own experiences. 

To request access, please send an email with your credentials to socialchess@fide.com.

FIDE General Partner


Club Magic Extremadura Deportivo-SocialChess in Spanish prisons

The Club “Magic Extremadura Deportivo-Social” sponsors a social program called “Nuestro ajedrez reinserta” (“Our chess reintegrates”) in Extremadura, Spain. The club works in two prisons, each of them located in the capitals of the two provinces of Extremadura, Badajoz and Cáceres. Juan Antonio Montero, psychologist, director of the program and director of the Club Magic Extremadura Deportivo-Social sent us an illustrated report.


Damion CoppedgeDamion Coppedge: Prison, Poetry, Buddhism and Chess

When Damion Coppedge was in prison for manslaughter, he played chess, wrote poetry, and practiced Buddhism. From prison, he sent $25 to Ugandan chess player Phiona Mutesi, which enabled her coach to open Mutesi’s first bank account. Free since 2019, Coppedge creates videos about chess, the game that he loves.

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