The Catalonian Chess Federation

Founded on the 2nd of August, 1925, in Barcelona

Article by WGM Anna Matnadze

The Catalonian Chess Federation was founded on the 2nd of August, 1925, in Barcelona, and was a member of the International Chess Federation till 1928, when the Chess Federation of Spain was founded by Catalan chess activists. Today, the Catalonian Chess Federation is a part of Spanish Chess Federation and the Union of Catalan Sport Federations.

The Federation held its first championship way back in 1905 and this year celebrated its 75th edition of the Championship. The record of seven wins by Miquel Albareda is of course extremely difficult to pass in today’s competitive chess scene. The female championships have also got a rich tradition and this year saw the 61st championship. The top number of wins, ten, was scored by M. Rosa Ribes.

The main goal of the Catalan Chess Federation today is to manage, regulate and stimulate activities related to chess in Catalonia, to develop pedagogical, recreational, sportive, artistic as well as cultural aspects of chess.

Toni Ayza Casamitjana

Toni Ayza Casamitjana, President of the Catalan Chess Federation

In a region of just over 7 million people, the Catalan Chess Federation has a record 250 Clubs and 7.200 licensed members, amongst whom 2.100 are younger than 16 years old! About 10% of all members of the Federation are females. The Federation organizes Championships in various age groups, where more than 1500 boys and girls take part annually.

The Championships have regional stages and consist of tournaments of territorial units. The final stages of the Championships consist of a tournament where participate around 310 players, which are distributed in 5 age groups (10, 12, 14, 16 and 20 years old).

The Catalan Chess Federation is the biggest Federation among all the members of Spanish Chess Federation; the number of its members is twice as much as the second biggest member of Spanish Chess Federation.

One of the major functions of Catalan Chess Federation is to provide assistance to young players. For this purpose, two technical centers in Balaguer (Lleida) and Barcelona have been established, where young players have the possibility to master their skills, where regular classes are held and players are trained during the whole year. Courses are complimented by on-line teaching, in order to make access to chess instruction available to all Catalan population.

The Federation has a web-site:, and also offers the possibility of on-line broadcasting:, as well as a magazine El Butlletí d’Escacs, published every three months.

Catalonia is one of the most active organizers of chess tournaments in the world, with several hundred official tournaments valid for ELO FIDE held and submitted annually for rating and titles. Among these tournaments, the most notable are the International Tournament Catalan Circuit, which consists of 28 tournaments held during the 4 months (from May to September) and in total the prize fund exceeds 175.000 Euros.

Catalan Circuit logo 2

Catalan Circuit

Not less important is the Catalan Team Tournament, where more than 5,000 players and 500 teams participate. The major closed tournament organized by the CCF is Torneo Ciutat de Barcelona – Magistral Casino de Barcelona, which this year reaches the XIV category .

Magistral Casino de Barcelona

Amongst the most distinguished Catalan chess players are: Miguel Illescas, Marc Narciso, Jose Manuel López, Alfonso Romero, Orestes Rodríguez, Josep Oms, Oscar de la Riva, Lluis Comas, and Jordi Magem to mention just a few.

It is no surprise that Catalonia has also seen a large number of creative people amongst whom the most famous were the artist, Salvador Dali, the architect Antoni Gaudi, the sculptor and artist Joan Miró i Ferrà. Pablo Picasso, although not born in Catalonia, spent a great part of his formative years as an artist in Barcelona.

We know about the passion that artist Marcel Duchamp had for chess but it may come as a little surprise to our readers to find out that the Catalan artist, Salvador Dali, was also a chess lover.

This beautiful still life, depicting three slices of bread, a few crumbs, and a chess pawn, is a remarkable example of the way in which Dalí succeeds in adding an epic dimension to the most ordinary of everyday things. This picture was painted in Arcachon in the spring of 1940. Dalí has said about the “intervention, from an anecdotal point of view,” of Marcel Duchamp in this oil:

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dalí. Two Pieces of Bread Expressing the Sentiment of Love. 1940. Oil on canvas. 81.3 x 100.3 cm. Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation, Figueres, Spain.

“Gala and I used to play chess every afternoon, at the same time that I was in the process of painting the slices of bread. I was trying to make the surface on which the rough crumbs of bread were placed very smooth. Often there were things scattered about on the floor for instance, the pawns. One day, instead of putting them all back in the box, one of them remained placed in the middle of the model of my still life. Afterward we had to find another chess set in order to continue our games, because I was using this one and would not allow anyone to remove it.”

Special thanks to Mr. Geoffrey Borg for his great contributions to this article.

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