Scholastic chess in Russia

by ChessBase
6/2/2016 – The White Rook tournament in Russia has a long tradition. Established in 1969 it aims to attract young players to chess and now is the oldest scholastic sports competition in Russia. In 2016 more than 6,500 pupils younger than 14 took part in the qualifying events that were played all over Russia. Now the finals began in Dagomys. With teams from Russia and other countries. | Photos: Vladimir Barsky

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Press Release

Schoolchildren from 10 countries are participating in the competition

The final tournament of the traditional all-Russian scholastic chess team event Belaya Ladya (also known as White Rook) started in Dagomys. Founded in 1969, the tournament is the oldest scholastic sports competition in Russia. Since 2015, Belaya Ladya also welcomes teams from foreign countries. In the 2016 final, apart from 332 young players from different regions of Russia, there are also children from Armenia, Belarus, China, Estonia, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Moldova, and Mongolia. More than 6,500 schoolchildren under 14 years of age participated in qualification tournaments in all regions of Russia during 2015/2016 academic year.

The organizers of Belaya Ladya are Russian Chess Federation and Russian Ministry of Sport. The competition is also supported by Russian Ministry of Education and Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation.

RCF Executive Director Mark Glukhovsky, Deputy General Director of Timchenko Foundation Igor Baradachev, Head Coach of Russian national teams grandmaster Sergey Janovsky, and Deputy Rector of Sergey Prokofiev Music School Konstantin Italjev took part in the opening ceremony of the event.

Mr Janovsky said, “Belaya Ladya is a tournament with such a reach that can only be compared to the Russian Junior Championship. A great number of children are taking part in this event at its different qualification steps; this year almost 7,000 players participated in the preliminary tournaments. Thanks to this competition, many schoolchildren start taking chess seriously, so Belaya Ladya is unrivaled when it comes to promoting chess. A unique chess section has been opened in Sirius school for gifted children in Sochi, supervised by former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, with our best trainers sharing their knowledge with the students. We are happy to announce that the players of the Russian team that will produce the best score in Belaya Ladya, will be invited to study at Sirius.”

Mark Glukhovsky thanked the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation, management of the Dagomys resort, Russian Ministries of Sport and Education, and everyone who assisted in organizing the biggest scholastic event. “I reserved a special praise for the Russian Olympic Committee: our joint project Chess To Children takes care of equipping scholastic chess clubs with chess sets, so all Russian schools playing in this final will receive chess sets and clocks”, said Mr Glukhovsky.

Mr Baradichev said, “Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation happily supports this tournament, which grows more and more popular every year, and is attracting schools not only from all over Russia, but also from abroad. The main prize for the best Russian school remained the same as last year – an opportunity to play a match against the strongest Chinese schoolchildren. Two previous matches took place in China – in Beijing and Shanghai, and this year we decided to invite the Chinese to our Far East. The Timchenko Foundation also supports Chess At Schools program, developing it in Zabaykalsky Krai and Pskov region together with RCF.”

Viktor Goncharov, Chief Arbiter of the tournament, made the drawing of lots. Then followed a concert by Maria Andreeva and Anastasia Karaulova, students of Sergey Prokofiev Music School.

Belaya Ladya expands every year. Foreign teams participating in the tournament are the winners of scholastic competitions in their countries. Teams from China, Latvia, and Estonia are joining Belaya Ladya this year. As it was announced above, the best Russian team of Belaya Ladya 2016 will be playing a friendly match with the strongest Chinese team in autumn 2016, thanks to the support of Timchenko Foundation. The first two matches were played in China, but this year it will be organized on a Russian soil.

Teams from orphanages and boarding schools are participating in the final competition for the second year in a row. The Specialized Boarding School #1 from Simferopol, which won the Ascension tournament (Sochi, 2016), will join other schools in the Belaya Ladya finals. This was made possible by RCF program aimed at providing chess education to the children growing without parents. During the period of 2014-2016, more than 300 orphanages and boarding schools in 60 regions of Russia joined the program, and 50 of them have already started providing chess classes with experienced coaches working in them. RCF will continue providing them with chess equipment and organizing scholastic competitions at local, regional, and national levels.

A broad cultural program will accompany the competition and chess simuls of the strongest Russian grandmasters. Andrey Shumakov, the World Champion in Brain Ring, will be conducting trivia contests. Famous chess trainers Mark Dvoretsky and Sergey Rublevsky will give lectures and master classes. As always, the children will be able to take part in side events in table tennis, volleyball and football.

For additional information and accreditation, please contact Kirill Zangalis +7 (968) 732 0080; e-mail:

Belaya Ladya is an annual All-Russia chess tournament for teams of educational institutions. It was founded in 1969 and is organized by the Russian Chess Federation and the Ministry of Sport of the Russian Federation under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Science. The tournament is held with the support of the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation. Eligible for participation are pupils younger than 14. The tournament is held in several rounds; the best teams from the participating regions play the final games. Prior to 1991, Belaya Ladya, along with Leather Ball and Golden Puck, was tremendously popular, and millions of Soviet schoolchildren played qualifying rounds. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the tournament took a pause lasting longer than a decade. Belaya Ladya was revived in 2004. The mission of the tournament is to popularize chess among pupils, find talented young players and develop the creative and intellectual capacity of young people. In 2016, 6,500 pupils played the qualifying rounds, and 332 young participants from 80 Russian regions advanced to the final stage.

Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation. Elena and Gennady Timchenko have been involved in charitable activities for over 20 years, both in Russia and abroad. In late 2010, they established a charitable foundation in Moscow to pursue long-term philanthropic goals. Originally named Ladoga, the Foundation is currently known as the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation (the Timchenko Foundation) and combines all the family’s philanthropy activities in its portfolio. The Foundation supports the older generation, promotes sports and culture, and provides assistance to families and children. The purpose of these strategic objectives is to resolve, on a systemic basis, the contemporary challenges Russia faces.

Official website:

The Russian Chess Federation (RCF) is a public non-profit organization that brings together individuals and chess federations of republics, regions, federal cities, autonomous regions and districts of the Russian Federation. The mission of the Russian Chess Federation is to promote and popularize chess in the Russian Federation. The RCF was founded on 15 February 1992. The RCF organizes the annual All-Russian children’s chess tournament Belaya Ladya, the Championship of Russia and other chess tournaments. In 2012, the RCF launched the “Chess in Museums” program. In 2014, the RCF launched the Chess to Orphanages program. The first competition between teams from orphanages and boarding schools took place in Zhemchuzhina Grand Hotel in Sochi on May 2-9, 2016.

Official website:

Photos: Vladimir Barsky

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