Juni 21, 2024

Morocco Chess Week kicks off in Casablanca

The 2024 edition of Morocco Chess Week started in Casablanca with the official Opening Ceremony at the Casablanca Stock Exchange. The event is held under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI. Since its launch in 2021, initiated by Casablanca Events & Animation and the Casablanca Stock Exchange, this festival has grown to an international scale. The 3rd edition of the festival is organized in partnership with the Royal Moroccan Chess Federation.

The main attraction is the Casablanca Chess Tournament, featuring Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Viswanathan Anand, and Amin Bassem. They will try out the novel „Casablanca chess variant“ designed to celebrate the history of chess. The grandmasters will start their rapid games from positions derived from historical games carefully selected by GMs Hicham Hamdouchi and Laurent Fressinet. This tournament promises a unique experience, honoring the rich history of the game. The games start on May 18 at 16:15 local time. Live Broadcast: Casablanca Chess 2024 – Chess.com

The Opening Ceremony began with a speech by Mr Tarik Senhaji, CEO of the Casablanca Stock Exchange. He said: „This festival, from the start, has been more than just a competition for us organizers; it has been a celebration of the spirit of chess. It is about learning, sharing, and growing together as a community. It is about fostering the values of chess for the wider community and fulfilling our social values for us at Bourse de Casablanca and also our partners.“

Mr Chakib Benmoussa, Minister of National Education, Preschool Learning and Sports, took the stage next. He emphasized that chess is not only a sport and a cultural phenomenon but also a great educational tool.

This year marks the centenary of the International Chess Federation, and Casablanca has been selected as the African city for the festivities. This celebration will feature the Chess Olympiad Torch Relay, which travels around the world leading up to Budapest, where the Chess Olympiad will be held in September. On this occasion, a significant event will be organized at the Parc de la Ligue Arabe with several enriching activities for the general public, including a simultaneous exhibition with 100 players.

Arkady Dvorkovich, FIDE President, said in his speech: „It’s not just an event, it’s one of the central elements of our 100-year anniversary celebration this year. We are looking at our history. We started in India, where most likely chess was born, we went to Switzerland, where for many years FIDE headquarters has been located, and now we are in Morocco from where most likely chess came to Europe. It’s about our roots.“

On the occasion of FIDE anniversary, FIDE President awarded the FIDE Medal of Merit to Mr Chakib Benmoussa, recognizing his contribution to the development of chess in the region.

The Opening Ceremony speeches continued with addresses from Mrs Tshepiso Lopang, President of the African Chess Confederation, Mr Mohamed Jouahri, CEO of Casablanca Events and Animation, and Mrs Bouchra Kadiri, President of the Provisional Committee in charge of the Moroccan Royal Chess Federation. 

In the end, the distinguished guests rang the ceremonial bell, officially opening the Morocco Chess Week 2024. 

Replay of the Opening Ceremony livestream: YouTube
Photos (please attribute the photographer when using): Dropbox
Live Broadcast: Casablanca Chess 2024 – Chess.com
Official Website: Casablanca-Chess

Written by Anna Burtasova, Casablanca Chess Press Officer

Photos by Lennart Ootes