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On 19 June 2023 in the Kraków Opera House, the European Pair Blitz Championships will take place. The competition is an accompanying event to the 2023 European Games and is one of the top chess events in Poland this year. The event was inaugurated with a special press conference.

The European Pair Blitz Championships will bring to the capital of Małopolska top male and female chess players from eight European federations – including, of course, Poland, as well as  Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Israel, Romania, Spain, Armenia and the Netherlands. On the men’s side, Poland will be represented by Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Poland’s number one player, World Cup winner and World Blitz Championships runner-up, while his partner will be the European Championships runner-up Oliwia Kiołbasa.

“First of all, I would like to give my thanks to Janusz Kozioł, the Polish government, the minister of sports and the organising committee,” stated  Zurab Azmaiparashvili, president of the European Chess Union, at the press conference. “I am happy chess will be part of the European Games for the first time ever. It is also the first time we will be playing in pairs. We are attempting to build a model for our sport that will enable it to appear at the Olympic Games. During the event in Kraków, top players from eight countries will be competing, providing great excitement. Another exiciting aspect is presenting chess in the Kraków Opera House. As for the Chess Olympiad, I can confidently support Kraków as a potential host of the event in 2028”.

“It was always always our goal for sports such as chess to get a foothold in Kraków and to find a place in the minds of the Poles,” stated Janusz Kozioł, plenipotentiary of the mayor of Kraków for the development of physical culture and deputy CEO of the 2023 European Games. “It is thanks to Jan-Krzysztof Duda that we fell in love with the game, but we would like to get as many people as possible interested. We plan to organise top-class chess competitions in Poland. Yesterday the Kraków mayor Jacek Majchrowski met with the president of the European Chess Union Zurab Azmaiparashvili and it was confirmed the city was ready to organise a competition as big as the Chess Olympiad. We are happy for chess to be part of the European Games, especially in a place like the Kraków Opera House. From today, we start lobbying for Kraków and Katowice to host the Chess Olympiad,” he added.

The time limit in the Championships will be three minutes per game for each player, plus two seconds per move. Men and women will play separately in round-robin format.

“Let me start by stating our country will be represented by Jan-Krzysztof Duda and European Championships runner-up Oliwia Kiołbasa,” said Łukasz Turlej, Secretary General of the International Chess Federation (FIDE). “The other teams will be extremely strong as well, as many players from top nations will be coming. The startlist, as well as the formula, will allow for a full audience in the Kraków Opera House and the excitement is building up for Monday”.

“It will be a highly interesting formula,” stated  Shohreh Bayat, chief referee of the Championships. “It is unusual, as we start with round-robin games, separately for the women and the open category. Subsequently, based on the results of the qualifications, we will proceed to the next stage, which will be the play-off round, deciding the medals. They will be given out in three categories: open, women and overall team classification (man and woman from each country). We are playing blitz, which makes the competition spectacular and very fast.”

“There are many benefits to our participation in the European Games,” stated  Kamila Kałużna-Turcza, head of the Małopolska Chess Association. “We are well prepared as organisers and we would like to prove it is no accident we became a part of the Olympic family. It is a small step towards becoming an Olympic sport and it gives us joy to start in Kraków with a new formula, with top-class players. We are going to show our sport can be spectacular to watch, popular and exciting. We are kicking off on Monday, 19 June, at 1:45 PM, with the first round starting at 2 PM. The final round is planned for 7:45 PM, with the conclusion of the competition at 8:15 PM”.