7th European Draughts Championships start in Tallinn
Today marks the opening of the 7th European Draughts Championships, being held in the Paul Keres Chess House in Tallinn. This edition of the championships is the first in 30 years. 45 players from nine countries are competing in the event, which will be opened by World Draughts Federation president Harry Otten and Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar.
“We have a great deal of respect for the European Draughts Federation for the effort they’ve gone to in bringing the championships back to life in Europe,” Otten said. “The first championships were held in Italy back in 1967, and the most recent in the Netherlands in 1980. Only two teams have ever won the championships – the former Soviet Union, four times, and the Netherlands, twice. This year nine countries are taking part: France, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Estonia.”
“It’s great to see that Tallinn has become a focal point of intellectual sports in Europe,” said Savisaar. “The European championships were held here in 2008, and the teams are back here battling it out again this year. Tallinn is well-known throughout the continent for hosting championships at the European level. After the success of the recent European Figure-Skating championships, I’m glad to see the city hosting other kinds of sports as well. It’s something that puts us on the map. Draughts was Napoleon’s favourite sport, and what makes it so special for Tallinn is that the city is home to the headquarters of the European Draughts Federation, which has been very successful in directing events in the sport over the last three years.”
European Draughts Federation and Estonian Draughts Association president Janek Mäggi says that the federation has been doing its utmost to promote the sport and boost its popularity. “Last year we organised the first high-level Scandinavian tournament, in Stockholm in Sweden, and this year we’re reinstating the tradition of the European championships,” he explained. “Holding them here in Tallinn has been a real shot in the arm for Estonian draughts. I’m so happy that with the support of the City of Tallinn we’ve once again made a bit of history in the intellectual sport of Europe.”
The European Draughts Federation (www.europedraughts.org) was founded in Tallinn by 12 national associations in 1998. It currently has 24 member states. Its first president was Poland’s Jacek Pawlicki, and its headquarters were situated in Poland until the end of 2007. With the election of Janek Mäggi as president in 2007, the headquarters were relocated to Tallinn. The federation organises European championships in draughts and is responsible for promoting draughts as a sport in Europe and attracting new member states.