The World Chess Federation – FIDE and its history

The Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE) or World Chess Federation is the international organization for chess federations around the world.  Its motto is Gens una sumus, meaning “We are one people.”  Its headquarters is currently in Athens, Greece.  It has 158 national associations or countries that are members.  Its web site is

FIDE organizes the World Chess Championship for men, women, and juniors.  It also organizes regional championships and the Chess Olympiad every two years.  FIDE calculates the Elo ratings or chess ratings of players and uses these to award titles such as FIDE Master (FM), International Master (IM), and International Grandmaster (IGM or GM).

The purpose and aim of FIDE are the diffusion and development of chess among all nations in the world, as well as the raising of the level of chess culture and knowledge on a sporting, scientific, creative and cultural basis.

In April 1914 an initiative was taken in St. Petersburg, Russia to form an international chess federation.

In July, 1914 an attempt was made to organize an international chess federation during the Mannheim International Chess Tournament.

In 1920 another attempt to organize an international chess federation was made at the Gothenburg Tournament.

In 1922 an international tournament was held in London (won by Capablanca) as part of the British Chess Congress. One of the participants of this tournament was the Russian chess master Eugene Znosko-Borovsky, who was living in Paris. He announced to the chess world that a chess tournament would be held during the 8th Sports Olympic Games in Paris in 1924 and hosted by the French Chess Federation.

From July 13 to July 24, 1924, the first world team competition took place at the Hotel Majestic in Paris. It was reported as the Chess Olympic Games. There were 54 players from 18 countries that participated. It was supposed to be the first International Team Tournament of Amateurs. The organizers of the Sports Olympics considered chess as a sport, but they demanded that only amateurs be permitted to take part in the chess competition.

The winner of this Paris event was Hermannis Mattison of Latvia, followed by Apscheneek, then Colle. The team championship was won by Czechoslovakia. Mattison was proclaimed amateur World Chess Champion.

The event was directed by Alexander Alekhine.

The Frenchman Pierre Vincent was the first to put forward the idea of an international chess federation. He had the support of the French Chess Federation to start a larger, world chess federation.

The Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE) was formed on Sunday, July 20, 1924. It was the closing day of the Paris Chess Olympic Games.

The principles of FIDE (pronounced fee-day) were to be an association of national federations of chess, with any national chess federation able to join it. The cost of joining was an annual contribution 300 francs.

The first President of FIDE was Dr. Alexander Rueb of Holland. The first registered office of FIDE was in The Hague, Switzerland in 1925.

The first Vice-President of FIDE was Leonard Percy Rees (1862-1944) of Surrey, England. At the time, he was the Secretary of the British Chess Federation.

The first Treasurer of FIDE was Professor A. Nicolet of Switzerland.

The original signers in the formation of FIDE included the following from 15 countries:

Roberto Gabriel Grau (1900-1944) of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Leon Willem Weltjens (1887-1975) of Anvers, Belgium.

Dr. Steven Francis Smith (1861-1928) of British Columbia, Canada.

Count Ignacio de Penalver (y Zamora) (1857-1933) of Spain.

Anatol A. Tscherpurnoff (1871-1942) of Helsinki, Finland.

Pierre Vincent (1878-1956) of France.

Major Francis Hooper Rawlins (1861-1925) of England.

Dr. Alexander Rueb (1882-1959) of Holland and President of the Dutch Federation. He was also a Dutch lawyer and diplomat.

Istvan Abonyi (1886-1942) of Budapest, Hungary.

Florenziano Marusi (1860-1936) of Milan, Italy.

T. Toubin (Towbin) of Poland.

Lt. Jon Gudju (1897- ?) of Romania.

Marc Nicolet (1876-1942) of Biel, Switzerland.

Dr. Karel Skalicka (1896-1979) of Czechoslovakia.

Jakov M. Ovadia (Ovadija) (1878-1941) of Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

Other people who participated in the first FIDE organization included Alexander Alekhine and George Koltanowski.

The motto selected for FIDE was Gens una sumas, meaning "We are one people."

Dr Rueb served as President of FIDE for 25 years, from 1924 to 1949. He was an amateur player and wrote books on endgame studies.

In 1949 Folke Rogard of Sweden was elected FIDE President and served until 1970.

In 1970 Dr. Max Euwe was of the Netherlands elected FIDE President and served until 1978.

In 1978 Fridrik Olafsson of Iceland was elected FIDE President and served until 1982.

In 1982 Florencio Campomanes of the Philippines was elected FIDE President and served until 1995.

In 1995 Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was elected FIDE President. He is also the president of Kalmykia, a small republic within Russia.

In 1925 FIDE held its 2nd FIDE congress in Zurich.

In 1926 FIDE had its third FIDE congress in Budapest. Invitations for a Chess Olympiad were late in being sent out, so that only 4 countries participated. As a result, the competition was called the Little Olympiad. The winner was Hungary, followed by Yugoslavia, Romania, and Germany.

In 1927 FIDE began organizing the First Chess Olympiad during its 4th Congress in London. The official title of the tournament was known as the Tournament of Nations, or World Team Championship, but Chess Olympiads became a more popular title. The event was won by Hungary, with 16 teams competing.

In 1947 the USSR joined FIDE for the first time. It joined only under the condition that Spain, a founding member, be ejected from FIDE.

In 1948 FIDE organized the World Chess Championship.

In 1949, Folke Rogard was elected president of FIDE.  He served for 21 years.

In 1950 FIDE awarded its first Grandmaster (GM) title to 27 players. The first list also included 94 International Masters and 17 International Women Masters. The first GMs were Bernstein, Boleslavsky, Bondarevsky, Botvinnik, Bronstein, Duras, Euwe, Fine, Flohr, Gruenfeld, Keres, Kostic, Kotov, Levenfish, Lilienthal, Maroczy, Mieses, Najdorf, Ragozin, Reshevsky, Saemisch, Smyslov, Stahlberg, Szabo, Tartakower, and Vidmar.

In 1957 FIDE introduced norms to gain FIDE titles.

In 1970, former world chess champion Max Euwe was elected president of FIDE.  He served for 8 years.

The first official FIDE ratings list was in 1971.

In 1978, Fridrik Olafsson, grandmaster from Iceland, was elected president of FIDE.  He served for 4 years.

In 1982, Florencio Campomanes of the Philippines was elected president of FIDE.  He served for 13 years.

In 1995, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was elected FIDE President.  He is the president of Kalmykia, a republic in southern Russua.

In June, 1999, FIDE was recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as an International Sports Federation.

In 2004 there are 159 national chess federations, with over 5 million registered chess players, that are members of FIDE.

In 2010, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was re-elected was FIDE president.  He defeated Anatoly Karpov, former world chess champion, by a vote of 95 to 55.  The election was held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia, where the biennial Chess Olympiad was being played.

Member countries include: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guernsey, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Surinam, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.