Monaco Chess Club: Rich history and honourable traditions

On the rest day at the Candidates Tournament in Monte-Carlo, FIDE Press Officer WGM Andreea Navrotescu visited the local chess club. Here is her story.

Today, the 27th of October, was the first rest day at the Women’s Candidates Pool A tournament. The real question is: what should you do as a professional chess player during a rest day?

There is probably a no good or bad answer to this question – some players would just relax while others would take advantage of the rest day to prepare even more. What I did today, however, was a visit to the local chess club (an easy choice since I am not playing). I discovered a lot of real gems for a chess fan, and I’m taking you with me!

My private guide, Jean-Michel Rapaire, who also happens to be the president of the Monaco chess club, explained that they had been renting their current place since 2008 and that it is a multipurpose space (chess classes are given during the week and on some weekends Monaco hosts French league games).

Once we entered the club, I was amazed to see all these relics, including framed pictures, letters from the Monaco Prince himself, magazines, as well as objects of every kind related to chess. The true gem of the collection is Fidel Castro’s chessboard (!!) from the 1966 Olympiad in La Havana.

Jean-Michel also spoke about the long-lasting tradition of the Monaco Chess Club participating in the highest-level team competitions. As a fun fact, Jean-Michel said that after the Monaco team won the French League in 2001, he promised the team to double the volume of the champagne bottle… Which seemed to have worked wonders as motivation since they won again in 2002!

We can also thank Monaco for establishing the European Small Nations Association (ESNA). Since small such as Andorra, Monaco, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Malta, Cyprus, Guernsey, Jersey, Liechtenstein and San Marino have active chess live, they compete in ESNA Individual and Team Championships. This tie is from the 2013 ESNA Team Championship and represents all the nations-members.

Monaco has always been extremely supportive of women’s chess, having organized various female Grand-Prix stages (2015 and 2019). It seems to have paid off: Monaco team took eight titles at the European Club Cup and won the French Female League three years ago, in 2019. Players such as Pia Cramling, Humpy Koneru, Muzychuk sisters  (does that remind you of some tournament?), Almira Skripchenko are true staples of team Monaco.

All we can wish for the players is to give their best in such a place full of history. The third games of the quarterfinals will start on October 28 at 15:00 CET, so stay tuned!