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Global Chess Festival

Grandmaster Judit Polgar’s 8th annual Global Chess Festival (GCF) again attracted an international audience. The 2021 version of the festival saw 3000 persons attend in person and another 45,000 join online. This year, the numbers were even larger with more than 3000 persons in attendance and over 260,000 connecting online, including GCF YouTube channels and streamers worldwide.

Women in Chess, Women in Science

Housed again at the National Gallery, the festival addressed two themes: “Women in Science” and “Women and Chess.” The event-filled day included simultaneous exhibitions, LEGO robot programming, and an educational summit.

NATE (Women in Science Association) and the festival’s main sponsor, Morgan Stanley’s SMARTIZ program, support girls; careers in science, IT and engineering. Through the personal story of Emily Hofer, a university student and her father Eric Hofer, participants were able to learn more about the opportunities offered by the program.

“Morgan Stanley actively supports STEM education, and we are determined to further increase the
proportion of women in these fields”, said Norbert Fogarasi, Head of Morgan Stanley’s Budapest
office. “Initiatives such as Smartiz, a mathematics and programming education program organized in
partnership with the Association of Women in Science for the fifth time in a row this school year,
allows high school girls to deepen their math skills and learn and develop their knowledge of coding.
We believe that creating a platform that builds role models is vital if we are to inspire and champion
future female talent. Smartiz is a prime example of these efforts, as participants get the chance to
receive mentoring from our female colleagues, among others, who have achieved great success in
their fields at Morgan Stanley’s Budapest office, a major center of technology and analytics for the
global financial institution.”

Chess in Education Summit

The educational summit featured the Minister of Education and Science of Georgia, Dr. Mikheil Chkhenkeli, whose country recently announced the inclusion of chess as a required subject for every first grade class. In a keynote speech Dr. Chkhenkeli  stated, “Chess is proven to be one of the most powerful tools we can give children to succeed in school and life.” Also featured were chess in education experts such as Rita Atkins, Women International Master and mathematics teacher and course leader for ChessPlus, Jesper Hall, Chair of the European Chess Union Chess in Education Commission, and Jerry Nash, FIDE Senior Adviser for Chess in Education and National Chess Education Consultant for Chess in Schools.

In the closing panel discussion of the festival, Dana Reizniece-Ozola, CEO of the International Chess
Federation (FIDE), Judit Polgár, the best female player in chess history, Gábor Orbán, CEO of Richter
Gedeon and Norbert Fogarasi, head of the Budapest office of lead sponsor Morgan Stanley, shared
their thoughts on what companies can do to give girls the attention and opportunities they deserve to
learn STEM skills and get into science.”At the festival, we explored the opportunities for girls in STEM fields from several angles. I believe that if they have the motivation and the support of their environment, i.e. society, there is nothing impossible for them. The role of chess in education is growing worldwide, and the experts and educators who spoke at this year’s conference contributed greatly to this. Chess has been successfully used in the education of millions of children from preschool age upwards and has proven to be an effective tool for children with autism. This game can be integrated into education in many different ways, in many different subjects, and our aim is to make these programs known and used in more countries in the future”, highlighted the main organizer, Judit Polgár.

In addition to the inspiring presentations and roundtable discussions, families were given an insight
into the Judith Polgár Method, which aims to develop playful, inspirational and complex skills for
children aged 4-10 through chess in traditional educational settings. In addition to the interactive adult and children’s programs and craft activities, participants could try out robot programming, take part in a talent assessment at the Morgan Stanley Chess Café, while the “classic” program of the festival, the Simultaneous, offered the chance to test their skills against Judit Polgár and the chess Olympiad and World Age Group Champion Zsóka Gaál.

To watch videos from the day’s events and presentations, visit the Global Chess Festival YouTube website.

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