International Chess Day
Also known as
World Chess Day (since 2020)
annually on July 20th (since 1966)
Chess is celebrated around the world on International Chess Day, as is the International Chess Federation (FIDE), which was founded on today's date in 1924 in Paris. FIDE created International Chess Day in 1966, the idea for it coming from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). FIDE sponsors the day and organizes chess competitions and events around the world. Players, clubs, and other organizations also create and take part in events. In 2019, the UN General Assembly recognized the day as World Chess Day with a resolution, to recognize the role of FIDE in supporting international cooperation for chess activity, to improve harmony among peoples of the world, and to provide a platform to foster dialogue, solidarity, and a culture of peace.
Chess is a two-player strategy board game where different types of pieces—pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, and queens—that have a prescribed set of moves, move across a checkered square board in an effort to capture an opponent's king piece. It is almost certainly derived from chaturanga, a game that started in the northern part of the Indian Subcontinent and spread along the Silk Road to Persia during the Gupta period. By the time it made it to Persia around 600 CE, it was known as chatrang or shatranj. It continued along the Silk Road to the Arabian Peninsula and Byzantium (Istanbul). Books were being written about the game by 900 CE, and by 1000 CE it was popular across Europe and Russia.
It took until the sixteenth century for the version played today to emerge, and chess theory didn't begin in earnest until the eighteenth century. Standardized chess set pieces came in the nineteenth century, as did clocks for competitive play. Both helped make modern matches and tournaments possible. The official world championship title came about in the late nineteenth century. While not everyone can be the world champion, everyone can celebrate chess with International Chess Day!
How to Observe International Chess Day
Celebrate the day by playing chess with someone, either in person or online. Watch a chess stream. Take part in a chess tournament. Check for chess competitions and events being organized by FIDE or for International Chess Day events organized by others that you could participate in.