The mystery benefactor of Dortmund

by ChessBase
7/3/2002 – Who is the lady in the picture on the left? Syrian by birth, now living in Paris, and one of the financial driving forces of present-day chess. She is sponsoring a Paris chess club, has staged a classical super-tournament and is now backing the Einstein Group (to the tune of € 300,000) in the Dortmund Candidates. Read all about the incredible Madame Ojjeh here.

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Who is Madame Nahed Ojjeh?

Her name appears more and more often in the chess world. Born in Syria, she now lives in Paris, where she dedicates herself to the promotion of chess. She is now regarded as the greatest international sponsor of the royal game. We are talking about Madame Nahed Ojjeh, who is is currently backing the Einstein Group, which in turn is responsible for the candidates tournament in Dortmund.

Madame Ojjeh's trademark "NAO Chess" is gaining more and more importance. Last year, Nahed Ojjeh took over a traditional Paris chess club, in March 2002 she organised her first classical chess super-tournament, the NAO Masters in Cannes, and now she has set her sights on other big projects in Europe, Asia and the US. The cooperation between Madame Ojjeh and the multi-media company Einstein, which came about when the Dortmund Candidates was being planned, is an ideal combination and raises hopes for future chess activities, not only in top-level chess.

Nahed Ojjeh on her motivation: "I have often asked myself why chess is so neglected in education. In almost all schools in this world children are taught music or art, whether they like it or not, whether they have talent for that or not. But there is no school program in which they have the option to choose chess instead. To change this is not unimaginable. Instead of suffering at a piano or an easel, a lot of children would blossom at the chessboard. Future Capablancas, Alekhines or Karpovs possibly among them.

Chess enables the young mind to have an insight into the fights and quarrels of daily life. The child formerly at a disadvantage now decides responsibly on his or her own, and can suddenly enjoy big successes. The wide scale of possibilities to teach chess in our schools helps to narrow social gaps and contributes to social harmony. I am convinced: Chess as part of our education and development can help to make the individual less violent and helps to chase away one's demons.

We should now seize the opportunity to use the extraordinary position of technology in our world of today for chess. The electronic image, artificial intelligence and the internet can help chess to occupy an entirely new position. It is not unreasonable to assume that chess can soon take up its rightful place as part of our educational systems.

Finally, I hope that the tournament in Dortmund is a promising step towards the reunification of the chess world. To the participants of the candidates tournament I wish 'bonne chance'."

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