‘Urban Chess’ initiative continues to expand in the Netherlands

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
4/5/2021 – Jesús Medina Molina’s initiative to promote the placement of public chess tables in open spaces has expanded in the Netherlands. Tables in The Hague, Dordrecht and Groningen were recently inaugurated. Medina invites more countries to follow this initiative, which intends to make chess more accessible, especially for kids.

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New tables, new opportunities

Jesús Medina Molina initiated a national program in the Netherlands which promotes the placement of public chess tables in open spaces. Medina has succeeded in getting his initiative approved in 21 Dutch cities so far, with the first three public tables inaugurated in Máxima Park in Utrecht back in 2018.

Not only has Medina worked in IT and tourism, but he also holds a Bachelor’s degree in education. Fluent in Dutch, Spanish, English and Italian, he learned to play chess when his daughter was struggling in school — he thought that chess might help her to strengthen her calculation skills.

After the plan worked out well, he decided to expand the idea. As he explained in an article published by FIDE last year:

We all know the educational benefits of chess. If we want more kids to be exposed to chess, we have to make chess accessible, make it visible in those places where kids play: in city parks, squares, and school yards.

You can’t want something if you don’t know that it exists. A lot of kids don’t play chess at home, or at school. They might not know that chess exists. By seeing chess tables in parks and squares, they will want to know more about the game, they’ll want to play it.

Last week, three more cities joined the program, as chess tables were inaugurated in The Hague, Dordrecht and Groningen — in Groningen, the winner of the 2021 Tata Steel Tournament, Jorden van Foreest, visited the newly installed tables.

Jorden van Foreest, Urban Chess

Groningen — the elite grandmaster will face a well-established queen’s pawn opening | Photo: Henk Tammens

Urban Chess

The Hague

Back in October, Eric van Reem interviewed Medina in his “Let’s talk about chess” podcast. In the 45-minute interview, Van Reem and Medina discussed the following topics:

  • How Medina taught himself to play chess at a late age in order to help his daughter improve her calculation skills after she had presented some difficulties with mathematics in school.
  • The difference between a chess court and a chess table, with the former including an integrated plan to motivate people to use them in a broad number of ways.
  • A correct approach to sell the idea to municipalities and sponsors, taking the focus away from chess and emphasizing the societal benefits related to the initiative.
  • The logistics behind building chess tables and promoting their proper use with the main goal of connecting people.

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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