Did you know that July 20th is International Chess Day? No? Well, neither did I! Well, actually, I knew there was an International Chess Day, and it was sometime in the middle of the year, but July 20th didn't ring any bells of recognition for me.
The 20th of July has been chosen to represent a special day for chess as it was the day in 1924 when FIDE, the international governing body was founded. Now I have to say that I can think of a heap of better days to commemorate chess, as FIDE has not done a brilliant job of uniting the chess world over the years. FIDE claimed the rights to the World Championship after the second World War and the organisation of this event gave the governing body some level of credence. However, it has always fought against individuals and national federations to maintain its central governing position, and through the Presidencies of Campomanes and Ilyumshinov the chess world seems to have become more divided than ever.
So why not choose a date that can rally chess players, and means something to all, rather than a celebration of an organisation which has seen to be divisive, money-grabbing, corrupt...
Here's a few:
October 21 - The most famous game in history, the Opera House game was played on this day in 1858
January 11 - The start date of the first 'official' World Championship between Steinitz and Zukertort (pre FIDE times) in 1886 (or March 19th, the date that Steinitz was crowned as the first World Champion)
May 20 - Birth date of Max Euwe, the only person to be a World Champion, amateur World Champion, and President of FIDE, though not all at the same time! (Of course, the birth date of any random chess great could be used and it make us happy).
I'm pretty sure that in the scheme of things, the founding of FIDE is not high up in the list of things that mean most to chess players!
Anyway, Happy International Chess Day!