Maximum number of entries: 8 per nation.
Prior to being included on Kazan 2013’s sports programme, chess debuted at the 2011 Summer Universaide in Shenzhen. Chinese organisers added it as an optional sport and never regretted it. The host nation took top places in all three chess events.
The history of chess in Russia began in the 12-14th centuries and is seen by most historians as a result of the Tatar-Mongol Yoke’s influence. Since the late 18th and early 19th century the first chess clubs and Russian chess books appeared in Russia. Thanks to the efforts of such outstanding chess players as Alexander Petrov, Karl Yanish, Sergey Urusov and Ilya Shumov, chess gained popularity among noble people, and later among intelligentsia, gradually becoming one of the main indicators of educational level of the society. Such great Russian writers and poets as Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, found great joy in playing chess, which also contributed to the game’s growing popularity in Russia. Mikhail Chigorin, a renowned Russian chess player, made a huge contribution to chess development. Only a bitter defeat to Wilhelm Steinitz during the last game of the 1892 World Championship prevented him from winning the world chess crown. But 35 years later, Alexander Alekhine managed to adopt the universal style of Jose Raul Capablanca which most people saw as ‘death through draws’ for the game of chess. However, Alekhine became the first USSR champion in 1920, but he was named the world champion only after he emigrated outside Russia.
Together with the rise of working class and kolkhoz movements, chess was officially announced as tool to aid the intellectual development of the masses, which resulted in emergence of a large number of young and talented masters. This led to the triumph of Soviet chess players at the World Championship that was topped by Mikhail Botvinnik. From 1948 to 1963 Botvinnik remained undefeated and defended his title three times. Botvinnik lost only twice (to Vasily Smyslov and Mikhail Tal, respectively), but regained his title in the rematches in 1958 and 1961. After the system of rematches was cancelled, Tigran Petrosian won the world championship in 1963 and successfully defended it until 1969. Boris Spassky took the championship title in 1969 and kept it until 1972, losing it subsequently to Bobby Fischer. After the defending champion refused to play the match, Anatoly Karpov was named world champion in 1975. He defended the title until 1985. Garry Kasparov defeated Anatoly Karopov that year and was world champion until 2000, after his loss to Vladimir Kramnik. And only in 2007, at the tournament in Mexico, Viswanathan Anand claimed the chess crown.
Up until now Russia is recognised as the home of world chess champions. 9 out of 15 holders of the chess crown were representatives of the Soviet (Russian) chess school.
Pride of Russia
Garry Kasparov (born Garry Weinstein, 13 April 1963, Baku) is a Soviet and Russian chess player, writer and politician. International grandmaster (1980), Merited Master of Sports of the USSR (1985), world youth chess champion (1980), USSR champion (1981, 1988), 13th world champion (1985-2000), Russian champion (2004), many-time winner of the Chess Oscar. Winner of the Keeper of the Flame Award (1991). Kasparov had the highest Elo rating (The Elo ratings are based on the Elo rating system, developed by Dr. Arpad Elo) in the world continuously from 1986 to 2005. He was also briefly ejected from the list following his split from FIDE in 1993, but during that time he headed the rating list of the rival PCA. As of January 1, 2006 Kasparov’s Elo rating is 2812.
‘Father’ of Tatarstan chess school is Rashid Nezhmetdinov (1912-1974), the first Tatarstan athlete who started to achieve serious results on the national sports scene. Merited Coach of the USSR, five-time RSFSR champion, three-time USSR champion of national team competitions, he was the only athlete that had a natural talent for both chess and checkers, he obtained Master of Sport titles, first in checkers and later in chess. However, he eventually gave up checkers for chess and FIDE awarded him the International Master title for his second-place finish at Bucharest 1954. The Kazan Chess School is currently named after Rashid Nezhmetdinov and Nezhmetdinov memorial chess tournaments are held annually in Kazan and other towns of the republic. The 34th edition of the Nezhmetdinov Memorial Chess Tournament took place in Kazan in 2012.
Alisa Galliamova was the first Russian female chess player of Tatar origin who made a name for herself internationally. Of course she was not acquainted with Rashid Nezhmetdinov, as the Tatarstan chess genius died when she was a child, but still his career had a certain impact on her evolvement as a great female grandmaster. Even now chess players around the world admire Nezhmetdinov’s fierce, imaginative, attacking chess combinations. And Alisa Galliamova owes her career success to diligence and careful guidance of Oleg Iglamov, a Kazan chess coach, and Alexander Panchenko, an international grandmaster from Chelyabinsk who was invited to work in Kazan. Alisa won her first Tatarstan title at the age of 13, and then international success came to her. In 1987 she won the World Youth U16 Chess Championships in Innsbruck, Austria. In 1988 she repeated her success at the World Youth Chess Championship in Timiosoara, Romania and won gold at the World Junior Chess Championship in Adelaide, Australia. After the Soviet Union collapsed, she lived for some time in Ukraine and later moved back to her home republic. Alisa Galliamova competed at four Chess Olympiads as part of the USSR national team (1990, silver), Team Ukraine (1992, silver) and Team Russia (1996, bronze), (2010, gold)
In December 1997, she won the Russian Championship and candidates’ tournament for the Women's World Chess Championship held in Groningen, Netherlands. The same year she took the Chess Oscar, granted by the International Association of Chess Press to top chess players of the year. In 1999, during the match between Xie Jun and Galliamova for the Women's World Chess Championship, the Chinese chess player claimed the chess crown.
In March 2006, Galliamova again reached the finals of the FIDE Women's World Chess Championship, competing against Xu Yuhua, and lost.
Together with her teammates Alisa Galliamova won the Russian Chess Club Championship in 2003. The team’s roster also included bright representatives of Tatarstan’s chess school Yulia Mashinskaya, Tamara Chistyakova, Sandugach Shaidulliina and Elena Zayats (a Belorussian chess player who lived at that time in Kazan). She repeated her success in 2012.
Moreover, Alisa Galliamova defended Tatarstan’s honour at European chess club championships, both as part of the women’s and men’s chess club teams. In 1997, being on the roster of the Nezhmetdinov Chess School team, she placed fourth at the Men’s European Chess Club Cup. And at the Women’s Men’s European Chess Club Cup in 2003 she took bronze as part of Tatarstan’s team.
The capital of Tatarstan hosted large-scale national and international chess competitions more than once. In the 1990s, one of the matches between Xie Jun and Alisa Galliamova for the Women's World Chess Championship took place in Kazan. In 2000-2008 the city also played host to a number of chess events: Russian Cup final, Tatarstan-Europe international match, chess tournaments of the 1st, 3rd and 4th editions of the Summer Spartakiade of School Students of Russia, Russian Youth Championships final, Super League of the 54th Women’s Russian Championship and major league of the 58th Men’s Russian Championship, chess tournament of the 1st Russian Summer Universiade. And at last, in 2011, Kazan hosted the 2012 Candidates Matches to decide the challenger that will later compete against the defending world champion Viswanathan Anand at the 2012 World Chess Championship.
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