Chess

Apart from physical sports, Uzbekistan also excels in the intellectual challenge of chess. The game, which has a history of over 1,500 years, is thought to have originated somewhere in the neighbourhood of India, Central Asia and Iran. It has always been popular in Uzbekistan, in the distant past as in the present. One of the first modern chess Grand Masters was Sergei von Freymann (1882-1946), who was born in Russia but settled in Uzbekistan in the late 1920s. By this time he had already secured a formidable international reputation for the shrewd elegance of his moves (still studied today). He continued to compete in chess tournaments in the Soviet Union, representing Uzbekistan, in matches with such figures as the great Mikhail Botvinnik. Today, there is a new generation of Uzbek Grand Masters who take part in national chess competitions as well as international Olympiads and World Championships. They include Marat Jumaev (b.1976) and Rustam Kasimdzhanov (b. 1979). They have competed in classic matches against such players as Gary Kasparov and Viktor Korchnoi. Kasimdzhanov is particularly famous for being a FIDE World Champion (2004-2005, wining against the British master Michael Adams in the final) and taking part in public competitions against computers, notably in New York in June 2005, when he was pitted against the Accoona Toolbar (the match ended in a draw). Efforts are also being made to encourage young Uzbeks to take up chess seriously. Local associations (with some state funding) provide training, organise competitions and facilitate contacts with chess enthusiasts abroad. In 2017, the Uzbekistan Chess Federation, under the auspices of the Asian Chess Federation, hosted the Asian Youth Chess Championship and Asian Youth Rapid and Blitz Championships, in Tashkent.

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