“I was able to earn good money from playing chess in Jordan, but not in Romania.” – Kais Khoury, chess player

    Kais Khoury is a successful chess player that knows how Romania treats chess compared to Jordan. He is now 20 years old and from the age 9 him and his father have traveled between the two countries competing in different chess tournaments. Although young at age 9, he was successful in winning a couple of local junior chess tournaments, and was able to earn some prize money by playing exhibition games in Jordan.  

    Photo: personal archive

    He got introduced to chess at age 7 by seeing his father play chess with his uncle and was very intrigued by what they were doing. In his own words “I think I was like 7 when I saw my dad playing chess with my uncle. I think that is how it happened. It was really interesting to me to see them so into something I did not understand. They seemed really focused and I was intrigued.” 

    The one that taught him the ways of the game of chess was no one other than one of the most important people in a person’s life, his dad. He was also the one that encouraged him to pursue chess professionally. “My father taught me how to play tactically and how not to stress under pressure or in a bad position.”  

    When talking about the differences between how it was for him to play chess in both countries, he was fair, direct, and honest as he did not shy away from pointing out some important issues that Romania has when it comes to the sport of the mind. “Well the thing is that in Romania, in some places where I have played, they do not even have clean toilets. And the sounds some people make… oh!  – some people act like they are at a funeral or something when they are in a worse position or when they are losing clearly. And also, you can barely find anywhere to play, and many of the competitions are not even giving you any money for winning or placing high.  In Jordan is different. Here there are a lot of places where you can play chess and you can earn good money if you play well too.” 

    When asked about what he thinks, from his own experience, Romania lacks the most in the chess field compared to Jordan, he had this to say “I believe it is a combination of people not really caring about it, because maybe they are too busy with their jobs or maybe it is a cultural thing, I do not know, and maybe because it is not as respected of a sport.” 

    Thinking about the future of the sport in the two countries can be problematic for Romania, as preserved from his knowledgeable perspective “I think in Jordan is going to continue to be good, but in Romania it depends on whether more tournaments are going to be created with prize money in them. And it is also a problem of conditions. Because this is what we have in Jordan. Here we have junior tournaments, free tournaments, rated tournaments, and it is really fun.” 

    In 2020, the Minister of Sports in Romania has allocated approximately 132 million lei (around 27 million euros) for 63 sports organizations around the country. However FRSah (Romanian Federation of Chess) has only received 500.000 rons, which is the same amount of money that was allocated last year (Ursescu, Fleșeru, 2020).

    Kais thinks more funding for the development of a strong chess culture in Romania would be a beneficial thing for the population. “The government doing that would be a good idea. Because most of the people in the world are not physically fit for playing, well, physical sports so it would be nice to have an alternative sport in which your mind is tested in favour of your body. ” 

    Kais Khoury thinks that an important alternative to face-to-face chess that needs to be discussed is that because people use the internet so much nowadays, online chess can be a great option for many to be introduced to the wonderful wonders of this masterpiece of a game. Getting people to play chess online is a great opportunity for the future of the sport, especially because there are so many free chess sites where people can play. “I play chess online a lot, not just outside. And it is a lot easier to play online than to travel from place to place just to play.”  

    As sites recommendations where the desiring readers and aspirational chess players can play, Kais Khoury had some excellent options. „They can play on www.lichess.com or on www.chess24.com . That is where I usually play, and they can also study theory and different styles there for free. All they have to do is create a free account.” 


    Marian, Ursescu, and Fleșeru Roxana. “MTS a anunțat bugetul federațiilor pentru 2020! A tăiat de la handbal și gimnastică și a dat la radioamatorism, scrabble, squash și cricket .” www.gsp.ro/sporturi/altele/mts-a-anuntat-bugetul-federatiilor-pentru-2020-a-taiat-de-la-handbal-si-gimnastica-si-a-dat-la-radioamatorism-scrabble-squash-si-cricket-587550.html, 2020. Accessed 21 April 2020.