Activists who perceive their national federations as not active and flexible enough to promote and develop chess have come together to form the Chess Sports Association. It has been registered as an international association in Vienna. Unlike the name might suggest its focus is not on competitive chess but on connecting chess with other sports and reaching out to non-club players. As President Harald Schneider-Zinner told ChessTech „our purpose is twofold: We will organise chess sport events and we provide our members with a network.“
When he retired from the Austrian Chess Federation out of frustration over the take-over by regional agendas, many asked Schneider-Zinner to stay in chess.
Until April Schneider-Zinner worked full-time as a coach for the Austrian Chess Federation, Most chess coaches and teaches in Austria have been trained by the former teacher who is also an avid organiser and broadcasted a weekly chess show long before Twitch made it fashionable. When he retired out of frustration over the take-over of the federation by regional leaders and agendas, the 53-year old hinted that he might do something completely different. „Many asked me to stay in chess“, says Schneider-Zinner, whose new project goes back little more than two months.
During a webinar run by the federation of Lower Saxony in Germany, somebody raised the idea to combine chess with other sports. Schneider-Zinner had not only been thinking about this himself but had already discussed concrete options with friends. On the very next day he talked in depth to the webinar’s organiser Michael S. Langer, and the idea for the association was born.
Langer is at the helm of the Lower Saxony Chess Federation since two decades. Many consider him as Germany’s most knowledgable chess official. He stresses that “we are not competing with the established federations but will complement them”. Since Langer is also on the board of the Lower Saxony Sport Association, his role in the CSA is to create connections with other sport organisations in Germany, while Wolfgang Moser, the director of the national Sport Academy Südstadt, will do so in Austria.
Bringing more women to chess is among the main objectives of the CSA, which practices gender parity. On both boards serve an equal number of women as men. Vice President Annette Waaijenberg, who founded Chessmates Zugerland, which has quickly evolved into one of the biggest chess clubs in Switzerland, will bring in her professional experience as an event manager and her focus on chess for girls. Vice President Lilli Hahn, a former board member of the German Youth Chess Association, completes the Executive Board along with Langer and Schneider-Zinner.
CSA practices gender parity. On both boards serve an equal number of women as men.
While all of the more than thirty founding members hail from German speaking countries, the plan is to role out the CSA internationally in 2022. The website is planned to launch next week and shall add English later on. The facebook page is already active. A teaser video by Roger Gloor is out, a longer trailer is about to be published along with video statements by members – all in German for now. A chess and biathlon event is in the making for winter, a networking event in Berlin is scheduled for 17 October during the planned central final of the German Bundesliga. The first personal gathering will take place in Vienna on 18 September – the same date as our Work4Chess conference, where the CSA is planning a presence.