The FIDE Torch Relay reaches Africa

by clement

After departing from India, the Chess Torch Relay – which will travel the world to celebrate FIDE’s first centenary – has reached the African continent.

Accompanied by FIDE representatives, including Tshepiso Lopang, President of the African Chess Confederation, and Dana Reizniece-Ozola, Vice-President of the FIDE Board, the flame arrived in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

In Ghana, the inaugural stage of the celebration was marked by a simultaneous exhibition of chess games and Ms. Reizniece-Ozola’s enlightening lecture at the Senior Correctional Centre, which, contrary to what its name suggests, actually houses minors (under 18) convicted of criminal or civil offences. This conference was part of the “Chess for Freedom“launched in 2021 and has since gained worldwide attention and support.

FIDE torch relay, chess

The FIDE delegation also visited the final stages of the 2024 African Individual Chess Championships. The 9-round events took place from March 13 to 20 and were won by Bassem Amin (Egypt) and Jesse Nikki February (South Africa).

A “Little Princess” girls’ tournament organized by the FIDE Commission for Women in Chess and a teacher training course by the FIDE Commission for Chess in Education took place.

Mrs. Reizniece-Ozola and the President of the Ghana Chess Association, Philip Elikem Ameku, met with senior chess, sports and government officials in Ghana, including the Chairman of the Board of the Ghana National Sports Authority, Seth Panwum, and the Vice President of the Ghana Olympic Committee, Mawuko Afadzinu.

FIDE torch relay, chess

Highlighting the transformative power of chess in education, Seth Panwum said:

We want to develop the best versions of our young people, and we see that chess in education can play a big role in that. Athletic, intelligent people are the future.

Mawko Afadzinu, Vice President of the Ghana Olympic Committee, emphasized the importance of the All-Africa Games, of which chess was one of the sports. This year, Ghana hosted the 13th edition of the All-Africa Games, and the GOC pledged its full support to the Ghana Chess Federation in its bid to organize the 2024 African School Chess Championship on the same premises as the All-Africa Games.

Expressing her gratitude for Ghana’s hospitality, Mrs. Reizniece-Ozola said:

The inclusion of chess in the All-Africa Games is testament to its growing importance. Our aspiration for Olympic recognition remains unwavering, and starting the African leg of the chess torch relay in Ghana is an important step towards realizing our vision.

FIDE torch relay, chess

As evening fell, the torch flame rose in the center of the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park in downtown Accra, which honors the legacy of Ghana’s first president. The park also has a chess connection, as it was here that Accra’s first chess club was founded.

To the sound of trumpets and drums, the chess torch was placed in a convertible car and began a procession to the Independence Arch, where chess enthusiasts and spectators enjoyed an evening of music and chess.

FIDE torch relay, chess

The festivities culminated at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel, where African chess champions, Egyptian GM Bassem Amin and South African WIM Jesse February, ceremoniously passed the torch to Tshepiso Lopang, President of the African Chess Confederation, who lit the cauldron, symbolizing the enduring flame of chess in Africa.

FIDE torch relay, chess

Now that the chess torch has reached Africa, the “mother continent”, the relay continues to Europe. On April 07, the torch handover ceremony will take place in Berne, Switzerland. The celebrations will take place on the Place Fédérale, the social heart of the city, and will also include simultaneous exhibition games with top chess players, the presentation of a postal stamp dedicated to FIDE’s 100th anniversary and a gala dinner with prize-giving. FIDE100.


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