UK vs Ukraine solidarity match reaches Parliament
The British chess boom reaches Parliament on Wednesday 22nd March, with two events hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle. The first will be the opening ceremony of a UK vs. Ukraine Solidarity Match, with the UK number one, Michael Adams, taking on the Ukrainian champion Andrei Volokitin, who is currently living as a refugee in Poland with his family. In the second contest of the day over the board, the GMs will captain teams of MPs and Peers as they battle for bragging rights in a match between the House of Lords and House of Commons.
Two remarkable matches
The British chess boom reaches Parliament on Wednesday 22nd March, with two events hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, at Speaker’s House. The first will be the opening ceremony of a UK vs. Ukraine Solidarity Match, with the UK number one, Grandmaster Michael Adams, taking on the Ukrainian champion Grandmaster Andrei Volokitin who is currently living as a refugee in Poland with his family.
The Speaker will make the ceremonial first move for Michael Adams and the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Volodymyrovych Prystaiko, will reply for Volokitin. The players will then contest a friendly Blitz game with five minutes on the clock. The Solidarity Match is the best of eight games, with games 1-4 at the Ukrainian Embassy and games 5-8 at the offices of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. A prize fund of £38,000 has been put up by a private donor.
The event is also being supported by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ukraine, which boasts 28 MPs and Peers and seeks to: Promote and strengthen relations between the UK and Ukrainian parliaments.
In the second contest of the day over the board, the Grandmasters will captain teams of MPs and Peers as they battle for bragging rights in a match between the House of Lords and House of Commons.
Chess has been played in Parliament for over 150 years and there is even a Chess Room in Parliament. The Lords vs Commons match was last played in 2016 and won by the Commons. It is organised by the charity Chess in Schools and Communities and Rachel Reeves MP, the Shadow Chancellor who is a former junior champion and a proponent of the benefits of the game in Parliament.
The proceedings on the board will be overseen by the match referee Shohreh Bayat, a recipient of the Dr Jill Biden International Woman of Courage award for her stand against the Iranian government’s compulsory hijab policy. Ms Bayat, who has been granted refugee status in the UK, was removed from her positions in FIDE (World Chess Federation) after she dressed in the colours of the Ukrainian flag during the World Chess 960 championships in Reykjavik last year.
Malcolm Pein, Chief Executive of Chess in Schools and Communities and the English Chess Federation’s Director of International Chess commented:
"The UK Chess community is doing everything it can to support Ukrainian players. The English Chess Federation supports the imposition of sanctions on the Russian Chess Federation, whose Management Board includes Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. We are pleased to be able to organise the Lords vs. Commons match to highlight the contribution of chess to UK cultural and sporting life.
The world’s oldest game is also the most inclusive, crossing all barriers of age, sex, language, geography and disability. The game is booming in the UK with 4.6 million active players from Chess.com alone and new chess clubs being formed all over the country. Chess in Schools and Communities brings the game to inner city children and to prisons. We are campaigning to have chess recognised as a sport, as it is in nearly every other European country or for the game to receive grass roots support from the DCMS."
Adams vs Volokitin match rules
An eight-game challenge match played at a classical time control between Grandmaster Michael Adams from England and Grandmaster Andrei Volokitin from Ukraine. The match will include a day in the UK Parliament, while other rounds will be organised at the Ukrainian Embassy in London (TBC).
The first four games will be played at a time control of 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for the rest of the game, with an addition of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.
• Tuesday 21st March Game 1 2 pm UKR Embassy
• Wednesday 22nd March Reception at Palace of Westminster (Opening Ceremony)
• Thursday 23rd March Game 2 2 pm UKR Embassy
• Friday 24th March Game 3 2pmUKR Embassy
• Saturday 25th March Game 4 2 pm UKR Embassy
• Sunday 26th March Rest day
• Monday 27th March Game 5 2 pm EBRD
• Tuesday 28th March Game 6 2 pm EBRD
• Wednesday 29th March Game 7 2 pm EBRD
• Thursday 30th March Game 8 11 am EBRD Simultaneous at 5.30pm
The clock will be started at 2pm unless, at the discretion of the Organiser and CA there is significant travel disruption in London.
About Chess in Schools and Communities
Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) is a UK charity whose mission is to improve children’s educational outcomes and social development by introducing them to the game of chess. Founded in 2009, CSC works with 1,500 schools across the UK. Each year, the charity stages ChessFest, a free mass participation event, in Trafalgar Square as well as an elite tournament, the London Chess Classic. See chessinschools.co.uk
Chess is a low-cost, high-impact educational intervention. It knows no boundaries of age, gender, faith, ethnicity or disability, and can be played anywhere at any time. The game fosters intellectual and emotional skills crucial to a child’s wider development; CSC teaches chess in disadvantaged communities to give every child the chance to realise their full potential and has expanded its programme to include libraries and prisons.
About the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development
The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was created in April 1991 to ‘foster the transition towards open market-oriented economies and to promote private and entrepreneurial initiative’.
Since then, the EBRD has invested over €180 billion in more than 6,500 projects across three continents.
The EBRD are a climate finance leader and actively support Ukraine and other countries affected by the war there. We have also committed much of our recent activity to countering the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
About the Author
Malcolm Pein is the CEO of Chess in Schools and Communities, organiser of the London Chess Classic, Managing Director of Chess and Bridge Ltd, the publisher of CHESS Magazine, and chess correspondent for the Daily Telegraph.