Online Workshop “Equal Opportunities”

The past four days have seen interesting
discussion around providing opportunities for everyone to participate in chess
regardless of their capabilities.

After the inaugural workshop took place in Thessaloniki, Greece in September 2019 the Global Pandemic caused the format to be slightly adapted and moved online instead. This allowed for people from all over the world to join in the discussion around how inclusion can be worked towards, regardless of whether you are a trainer, arbiter or organiser. Around 150 people joined us during the 4 days, with the keynote sessions from Day 3 also being shown live on Youtube.

GM Thomas Luther was leading the session relating to Trainers, whilst FM Theodoros Tsorbatzoglou encouraged discussions for Organisers and WIM Carolina Munoz Solis lectured for Arbiters.

The most interesting day was the 3rd Day with different keynote speakers giving an insight into the importance of inclusion into chess and how chess can change lives.

After being introduced by ECU President Zurab Azmaiparashvili, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich thanked everyone who has been helping to start making a difference when it comes to including everyone.

ECU Vice President and FIDE MD Dana Reizniece Ozola gave an overview of some of the interesting projects that have been happening over the past year and the impact chess has had on so many people in these uncertain times.

Sonja Johnson, Chairperson of PDC, spoke about the support that is available to federations and that there are so many great ideas out there.

Dr Marape spoke about the challenges from a medical point of view as disabilities and the required adaptations are incredibly diverse.

Elias Mastoras spoke about some of the sports programs for people with disabilities that he has been involved in and some of you might remember him as one the speakers from the Workshop in Greece.

The last hour saw FIDE Executive Director Victor Bologan talk about his motivation for supporting chess for people with disabilities and how the benefits for the players are not just limited to the game but ultimately can help improve lives and experiences.

Sorin Lapadatou gave an account from how Chess for the Blind has been starting to get recognised more and more, being included in the World IBSA Games in Birmingham in 2023.

Throughout the four days some very
interesting discussions were had with the lecturers encouraging healthy debates
and challenging perceptions. Quite a few of the participants shared their own
stories and experiences within their respective involvements in chess. Lots of
talking was around how advancing technology can be utilised but how strict
rules need to be in place to avoid cheating. We also learned about Bear, the
Chess Husky, who is Sean Manross’ support dog and how these animals are so well
trained that no one will notice them but the difference they make to the
person, but also to organisers and fellow players can be enormous.

We are very much looking forward to continuing the discussions that provided a lot of food for thought, helping to collate the information that is already out there to make it accessible to a wider audience and further raise awareness that no one needs to shy away from inclusion.