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Polish Chess Federation

Polish Chess Federation history

Prepared by Andrzej Filipowicz

Chess appeared in Poland many centuries ago. Excavations of chess pieces from ages X-XIII, which were found in Szczecin, Międzyrzecz, Gdansk and Sandomierz, would suggest that chess was played in Poland already in the XII century. The royal game become popular in Poland in the XVI century, when our country spread from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. It was played at castles, monasteries and manor houses. In 1564 Jan Kochanowski, a polish poet, created his awesome poem called „Chess”, which is by all means unique in the chess literature, while in the XVII century a first chess book is published by Jan Ostroróg, governor of Poznan.

In the land of Poland, current and historical, in the XIX and XX centuries, many outstanding chess players were born, among them: S. Rosenthal, Sz. Winawer, G. Salwe, D. Janowski, J. Zukertort, A. Rubinstein, D. Przepiórka, A. Flamberg, J. Perlis, G. Rotlewi, Em. Lasker, S. Reshevsky, M. Najdorf, S. Flohr i Abe Yanofsky, which was noted by the creator of the FIDE ranking, Professor Arpad Elo, in his famous book.

The first chess clubs were organized in Warsaw and Poznan in the thirties and forties of the XIX century. The Cracow Club of Chess Players was established in 1893 inCracow.

The history of Polish chess is opened by an awesome accomplishment of the Warsaw chess players Szymon Winawer, who finished second in the international chess competition in Paris in 1867, behind Kolisch but before the future official world champion Wilhelm Steinitz.

In those times a couple of extraordinary Polish chess players, especially Akiba Rubinstein and Dawid Janowski, wandered around Europe with significant successes among the world’s elite. Dawid Janowski even played a World Championship Match in Paris in 1909 against Emanuel Lasker, but he was defeated 2-8.

The most prominent Polish chess player Akiba Rubinstein was truly passionate about the royal game: “300 days a year I work on chess for 6 hours a day, 60 days I spend in chess tournaments and I rest for 5 days.” He won, together with Lasker, a great tournament in Petersburg in 1909, and in 1912 he won five times first prize in tournaments of San Sebastian, Piszczany, Wroclaw (together with Duras), Warsaw and Vilnius, finishing ahead of a complete line-up of the world’s strongest players.

He became the first candidate for the world championship title and his match against world champion Emanuel Lasker was awaited. Unfortunately, the I World War started and after the war condition changed drastically. The financial dire straits and daily worries left permanent scars in the mind of Akiba Rubinstein. His iron health and exceptional psychological endurance started to fail him. At this time Rubinstein decided to make a very memorable, fair and noble move. He cancelled the challenge of 1912 against Lasker and he released Lasker from the promise to play a match for the world championship. In a letter to the world champion he mentioned that Capablanca would deserve more to fight for the chess crown. Rubinstein’s prophetic words very quickly proved to be true. In 1921 Capablanca defeated Lasker and became the world champion!

Max Euwe, the world champion between 1935-1937 and FIDE president between 1970-1978, included Rubinstein among the classics of the royal game: “When I was a young boy, Rubinstein was my role model. Rubinstein was so much more than just a gifted and strong chess player. He was one of the most talented architects, building the chess temple. His research in the field of chess was significantly deeper than in case of his predecessors. His thesis were binding also for his successors. Rubinstein is a father of modern positional play. Without Rubinstein there would be no Flohr, Euwe, Smyslov…”


FIDE was founded on July 20, 1924 year in Paris. Mr. Izaak Towbin from Poland, the representative of the Warsaw Society of Chess Fans, was one of the 15 signatories of the incorporation document of the International Chess Federation (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), signed on July 20, 1924.

Polish Chess Federation has been established on April 11, 1926, during a meeting of delegates from clubs, societies and regional chess associations from Warsaw, Lodz, Cracow, Poznan, Upper Silesia, Lwow, Wilno, Bialystok, Gdansk and some other cities, who represented about 1600 registered chess players.

On the very next day after PZSzach was established, the first championship of Poland was held. The first Team Championship of Poland has already appeared in 1929 year. Official championships of female players also have long tradition. They have started in 1935.

PCF organizes every year over 70 tournaments where the championship of Poland is at stake. There are frequently preceded by preliminaries. Individual tournaments cover both men and women, as well as young players aged equal or less than 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 plus championships for pre-school kids aged 7 or less. In the team championships of Poland we have the Extra league (10 teams), the first league (10 teams) and the second league (30 teams) plus regional championships. Teams consist of 5 men and 1 woman. We also maintain the Extra league (10 teams), first league (10 teams) and the second league (32 teams) for juniors, where teams consist of 6 members – two boys and one girl chess players aged 18 years or less and 14 years or less.

PCF was the first in the world to officially introduce in the 1966 year individual and team championships of Poland in the blitz chess (G-5′). Rules for the blitz chess were formulated by Kazimierz Plater and Andrzej Filipowicz. A few years later it was translated into English and thus it become a basis for international rules of blitz chess. Since 1988 we have also championships in rapid chess (G-30’) Also juniors compete in rapid and blitz chess, in many age groups: 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 years.

Polish Chess Federation ruled the chess life, but respected far-reaching independence of regional associations, delegates of which decided how to handle key issues of the Polish chess and elected PCF’s authorities.

PCF has cooperated with FIDE since its inception. During the 84 years many very high quality FIDE and ICCF (International Correspondence Chess Federation) PCCC (Permanent Commission of Chess Composition) events were organized in Poland, as well as many ECU (European Chess Union) events as follows:

1935 Warszawa VI Chess Olympiad
1935 Warszawa Women’s World Championship
1935 Warszawa FIDE Congress
1957 Kraków Women’s Zonal   Tournament
1963 Łódź Women’s Zonal   Tournament
1964 Kraków World Student Team   Champ.
1969 Lublin Women’s Chess   Olympiad
1973 Warszawa ICCF Congress
1979 Warszawa Zonal Tournament
1981 Bydgoszcz Women’s Zonal   Tournament
1983 Poznań ICCF Congress
1984 Katowice European Junior Girls U-20 Champ.
1987 Warszawa Zonal Tournament
1989 Straszęcin European Junior Girls U-20 Champ.
1989 Warszawa FIDE Executive   Council
1991 Warszawa World Champ. U-10,   U-12, U-14
1993 Sopot ICCF Congress
1995 Nadole Women’s Zonal   Tournament
1995 Żagań European Champ. U-16 and U-18
1997 Żagań European Junior   Championship
1999 Krynica Zonal Tournament
2000 Rowy World Senior Championship
2000 Rowy World Senior Women Championship
2001 Warszawa Women’s European Championship
2005 Legnica European Solving Championship
2005 Zegrze European Championship
2005 Warszawa European Rapid Championship
2006 Warszawa European Rapid   Championship
2006 Sękocin Stary European Solving Championship
2007 Warszawa European Rapid   Championship
2008 Warszawa European Rapid   Championship
2009 Kraków FIDE   Presidential Board
2009 Warszawa European Rapid   Championship
2011 Kraków FIDE Congress

The most of World Champions: Emanuel Lasker, Jose Raul Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Max Euwe, Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, Boris Spassky, Robert Fischer, Anatoly Karpov, Gary Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, FIDE World Champions Ruslan Ponomariov, Veselin Topalov and Women’s World Champions Vera Menchik, Nona Gaprindashvili, Maia Chiburdanidze, Zsuzsa Polgar, Antoaneta Stefanova and Alexandra Kosteniuk visited Poland playing in tournaments or giving simultaneous displays.

PCF has organised the 1935 and 2011 FIDE Congresses, the 1989 FIDE Executive Council and the 2009 FIDE Presidential Board and hosted FIDE Presidents: Alexander Rueb, Max Euwe, Florencio Campomanes and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as well as board members of many federations.