Golden Pawn award for ChessBase

by ChessBase
12/5/2019 – Last Saturday the first European Golden Pawn event was held in the super-luxurious Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, Monaco. The host, the European Chess Union, writes: "The award ceremony will mark the beginning of a new tradition, honoring the best representatives of European chess. The chess world — people for whom chess is not just a sport, but an outstanding, intellectual and royal game — has been waiting for this high-scale event." We are proud to report that ChessBase got the prize for the "Best European Chess Project."

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The first European Golden Pawn event was held on the 30th of November in the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, Monaco. The Diamond Sponsor of the European Golden Pawn awards was the Georgian Industrial holding AiGroup, which is also the General Sponsor of the ECU. The event was hosted by GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili, President of the European Chess Union and Giorgi Khurodze, a representative of the Diamond Sponsor. The idea and concept of the event was introduced by Tea Kipshidze (PR and Marketing of the European Chess Union). The director of the event was Basa Potskhishvili, the art director Tamar Potskhishvili. The event was produced by Studio 123. All photos in this report, unless otherwise specified, are by Frederic Friedel in Monaco.

The famous and super-luxurious Hotel de Paris, where the prize-giving was held. No, that is not real snow, but actually extremely well done.

In the event program we read: "The award ceremony will mark the beginning of a new tradition, annually rewarding the best representatives of European chess. The chess world — people for whom chess is not just a sport, but an outstanding, intellectual and royal game — has been waiting for this high-scale event."

The grand dinner reception for the Golden Pawn Awards in the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo | Photo: ECU

The stage on which the awards were handed over to the winners

Here are some of the prize winners:

Kasparov and Polgar

(Click or tap each to enlarge)

Gaprindashvili and Chiburdanidze

Bessel Kok and Frederic Friedel

You can view the entire booklet with all the winners here.

Best European Chess Project

Of special interest to us is that ChessBase received the prize for the Best European Chess Project. The Golden Pawn was given to co-founder Frederic Friedel in Monte Carlo. This is what was said during the ceremony — the whole of which you can watch in this Golden Pawn video stream. There are a number of musical and even a ballet performance between awards. You can see ChessBase receiving the award at around 46 minutes into the stream. Frederic Friedel was announced by the presenters Maurice Ashley and Bachar Kouatly (both GMs). This is what was said:

Maurice Ashley: Just like everything else in the universe, chess has developed. The computer has brought considerable change in chess preparation. Databases with millions of games are being updated every single day, and numerous online platforms have appeared. The next nomination is Best European Chess Project.

For the announcement FIDE Deputy President and president of the Chess Federation of France is invited on the stage.

Bachar Kouatly: We have chess for such a long time, over 1,300 years. There was chess before 1985 — a long history — and there was chess after 1985. The best European Chess Project is for a great, great project that came into the lives of many chess players in the last third of a century — in 1985-1986. I would like to ask Frederic Friedel to come up here. ChessBase is nominated as the Best European Chess Project.

Bachar Kouatly, Frederic Friedel, Maurice Ashley on the stage in Monte Carlo | Photo: Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, editor of New in Chess

Frederic Friedel: Good evening, guten Abend. I would like to accept this award also in the name of the co-founder, the person who wrote all of the code in the beginning, Matthias Wüllenweber, and for the thirty people who are now working in Hamburg to improve the program constantly.

I would also like to thank a 22-year-old grandmaster who, in 1985, came to my home, outside of Hamburg. He introduced himself, and then sat down with me and described what a computer should be able to do to help chess players. Then I found Matthias Wüllenweber who had already created a chess database program. We showed it to this grandmaster, who was absolutely fascinated and delighted. He told us — urged me — to found a company and make the program available to chess players all over the world. That's how ChessBase started, in 1986, and became very successful. So: thank you, Garry [nodding to Garry Kasparov], for initiating that and changing my life completely.

I would like to thank the European Chess Union for staging this awards presentation — chess needs this kind of event to become really popular in Europe.

I would also like to mention that I am now going into retirement, and my last goal is to make software available for children to learn chess, starting from the age of six. Because that's where the future of chess is [applause]. We have a program that does that, and we have sold 500,000 copies of it. But I would like to make it free for any child who wants to learn chess. Anyone who is interested in this, please contact me, and I will tell you how that can work — make it free of charge, one click, and they can play and learn. In a few weeks the child will come back to you and say: "Can we play?" because it knows how to play chess.

Thank you very much.


Impressions from Monte Carlo, by Frederic Friedel

A view of the city and the harbour. Here's a panorama photo which you can click and then scroll around. It is all high-rise, spectacular and for the most part extremely affluent.

The Prince’s Palace, official residence of the Grimaldi family in the Principality of Monaco. The Prince did not attend the chess event (maybe next time?) but his deputy sure did.

Our hotel entrance, with a parade of luxury cars parked in front

The hotel lobby where I had countless meetings with old and new friends

Two it was a special pleasure to meet and chat with: Garry Kasparov, Maurice Ashley | Photo: ECU

At the awards ceremony: Prize winner chess organiser Bessel Kok, FIDE President Akardy Dvorkovich, and Willi Icklicki, former member of the FIDE Presidential Board and author of FIDE's Golden Book 1924-2016.

Former FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos, and former ECU President Boris Kutin

FIDE President Akardy Dvorkovich and Judit Polgar – who really needs no introduction

New friends: former Women's World Champions and Golden Pawn prize winners Maya Chiburdanize and Nona Gaprindashvili, who incidentally was the first woman to be awarded the FIDE title of Grandmaster (in 1978). I have known these two and followed their careers during my entire adult life — and met them personally in Monte Carlo for the first time.

Maya and Bessel receive their awards. Both are absolutely delightful friends.

Between awards there were some spectacular music and dance performances...

...including ballet, with high-class dancers.

She sang for us: musician, composer, singer and chess fan Juga | Photo: ECU

In the end a special award and accolade for Garry Kasparov. On the left the advisor of Prince Albert II of Monaco, former pentathlon World Champion Joël Bouzou, on the right ECU President Zurab Azmaiparashivili.

Picture of all the prize winners of the Golden Pawn (click or tap to enlarge) | Photo: ECU

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