The tournament was conceived over two decades ago by an Englishman Ken Moore. Whilst working as a Forces Liaison Officer for the Danish Tourist Board back in 1978, he came up with a bright idea and invited chessplayers from the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR) and Germany's Armed Forces to participate in a team chess tournament in Northern Denmark. Unofficial NATO Chess Tournaments had been held then in Denmark every year since 1978. In the course of time a specific, friendly atmosphere evolved around the event. Tours of the local area where the competitions were held were annual highlights for which a free afternoon was always scheduled. The main attraction, however, was always the closing ceremony and banquet with the obligatory speeches and the awarding of cups, medals and certificates. Contacts between the players developed in a way that could never have been foreseen, with many friendships being made during the competitions.
With regards to the technical development of the competition, the requirements for inclusion in national teams have undergone drastic changes.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is an international ally for collective security established in 1949 in response to the aftermath of the Second World War. Its headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium. The founding members of NATO are the UK, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, USA and Canada. First post-Communist countries (Poland, Hungary and the Czech Rep.) joined in 1999. The core of NATO is Article V of the Treaty, which states: The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all (...) The role of NATO remained largely unchanged until the fall of the Soviet Union and the liberation of Eastern Europe. After that NATO was to find a new role as new conflicts emerged in the Balkans and parts of the former Soviet Union. These wars helped strengthen the alliance between NATO countries and reinforce the view that collective defence and cooperation continued to be the best way to guarantee security. http://www.nato.int
Several countries made participation conditional on qualification in their national military chess championships. Certain teams organised training camps with International Grandmasters and other strong players. As a result of the increasing interest, which these events gained during the course of time, it was even possible to bring FIDE titleholders into action (like GM Agdestein in 1986 and 1987, some IMs and many FMs). As the number of participants increased, so did the logistical problems for the organisers (e.g. finding accommodation for 80-100 people). This was just one reason why, in 1986, the idea to organise the event in alternating countries was conceived. However, it was not until 1989 that this finally came about.
When the 1st Official NATO Chess Championship was held in Hammelburg, Germany in 1989, the NATO Secretary-General, Dr. Manfred Wörner, honoured the victors and became patron of the chess competitions. On the occasion of the 3rd Official NATO Chess Championship, held at Cranwell, England in 1991, an International Military Chess committee was set up, in order to support NATO member-states interested in organising future competitions. To assist with planning and preparations, the committee was formed under the Chairman-ship of Brigadier General (rtd.) Hendrik Steffers, with Lieutenant Colonel Jan Ludden, also from the Netherlands, as Secretary. Although the committee has no direct influence on national interests, it is hoped that it will always succeed in ensuring that these championships will continue in the future in their proven form. Apart from the sporting worth of these competitions, the invaluable aspect of maintaining contacts with participants from various nations' services should not be underestimated.
Please note!! Most of unofficial tournaments and all of Championships were individual 7 round Swiss. "Boards" indicates number of top players from a country whose score was included in teams' overall result.