The largest chess club in the world

by Anastasiya Karlovich
7/27/2014 – The United Arab Emirates has many landmarks that are famous around the world, including the tallest man-made structure, the Burj Khalifa, the world's biggest mall, the Dubai Mall, and the JW Marriott Marquis, the world's tallest hotel. Therefore it should come as a no big surprise that it is now home to the largest chess club in the world. Big illustrated report.

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A view of Sharjah Chess Club

The chess club was built in the same style as other buildings in the city

The Sharjah Cultural and Chess Club was established by Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, the ruler of Sharjah, more than one year ago and was officially opened on March 28, 2013.

The Sharjah Chess Club covers an area of 34,000 cubic feet, including the main hall which can accommodate up to 500 players.

Besides two huge playing areas there are many class rooms, library, VIP room, regional FIDE office etc. One can find here all possible modern equipment and devises invented in the chess world.

The Cultural Center of Sharjah

The logo in the foreground above was designed by Emirati artist Hisham Al-Mazloum, who is the head of Arts Directorate at Sharjah's Department of Culture and Information. It is inspired by the UAE's traditional cultural identity and features the barjeel (a local word describing a traditional circular wind tower) reflecting its vision of old-world values combined with modern-day norms.

During the last year Sharjah chess club opened its doors to all chess players from all around the world and absolutely ready to host international and national events of all kinds and since the opening of the club the organizers have been checking different formats. 

The first international tournament was the Asian Juniors Championship under 20, than the Match between GM Salem and GM Khismatullin took place.

There were also Sharjah international rapid tournaments, UAE Men championship and UAE juniors championship, President Cup.

On April 2014 the Asian Continental Championship took place and about 100 participants were competing, including former World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

The backyard of the club where the buildings of drivers and buses are located.
Every day drivers bring children and coaches to the club.

This is what the area looked like before the chess club was built – pure desert. In this area
next to the building of the club the government plans to make the football field for children.
Good physical preparation is a part of any chess player's success!

The largest playing hall in the club can host more than 500 players

Apart from organizing chess competitions the chess club functions as a chess school for children. Around 200 pupils come here to study chess and there are four coaches working with children in regular basis - GM Dimitri Komarov (Ukraine, FIDE senior trainer), Abdul Kader Rayes, Sohib Okla (both from Syria), Ihsan Jawad Joudeh.

Another hall where 200 players can play

After the chess lessons children usually play here as well

One of the chess coaches Sohib Okla shows some puzzles on the screen

Around 200 children attend the chess club and all of them are boys. The club for girls is going
to be built soon nearby. In the UAE chess education is compulsory for all children aged six to
twelve, with boys and girls being taught separately. Nevertheless girls and boys can compete
together during chess tournaments.

GM Dimitri Komarov, coach of Sharjah Chess Club, was the official live commentator of the
World Rapid and Blitz Championship, held in Dubai on June, 2014

Library with chess and non-chess books

A few chess games with a computer

A gigantic chess set

VIP room for special guests

Salem A.R. Saleh, member of the club and top-rated player in the UAE at 2591 Elo had a
2690 performance during the World Blitz Championship, and scored 100% in the last four
rounds, including a win over Sergey Karjakin

The President of the Sharjah cultural and chess club, Sheikh Saud Al Mualla, with his sister

Rajai N Alsusi, General Manager of Sharjah Cultural and Chess Club

Pupils and trainers

Photos and article by FIDE Press Officer Anastasya Karlovich

Anastasiya Karlovich has been a Women Grandmaster since 2003. She started her journalist career as freelance journalist in 2006 by publishing reports on and since then worked as a press officer for a variety of FIDE events.


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