India to host Chess Olympiad for the first time; FIDE President thanks PM

New Delhi: The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi launched the historic torch relay for the 44th Chess Olympiad today at Indira Gandhi Stadium, New Delhi. FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich handed over the torch to the Prime Minister, who in turn handed it over to Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand. This torch will be taken to 75 cities in a span of 40 days before the final culmination at Mahabalipuram near Chennai. 

India to host Chess Olympiad for the first time
India to host Chess Olympiad for the first time; FIDE President thanks PM for his leadership

At every location, chess grandmasters of the state will receive the torch. Prime Minister also made the Khelo Chess Ceremonial move followed by Ms. Koneru Humpy making a move. Union Ministers Shri Anurag Singh Thakur and Shri Nisith Pramanik, Chess players and enthusiasts, Ambassadors, and Chess Officials were among those present on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering the Prime Minister said “Today the first torch relay for Chess Olympiad games is starting from India. For the first time, this year, India is also going to host the Chess Olympiad games. We are proud that a sport, starting from its birthplace and leaving its mark all over the world, has become a passion for many countries.” He continued “Centuries ago, the torch of this sport went to the whole world in the form of Chaturanga from India. Today the first Olympiad torch of chess is also coming out of India. 

India is celebrating its 75th year of independence

Today, when India is celebrating its 75th year of independence, Amrit Mahotsav, this Chess Olympiad torch will also go to 75 cities of the country.” He said “FIDE has decided that the torch relay for each Chess Olympiad game will start from India itself. This honor is not only the honor of India but also the honor of this glorious heritage of chess. I congratulate FIDE and all its members for this”

The Prime Minister dwelled on the Indian heritage in Chess. He said “Our ancestors invented games like Chaturanga or Chess for analytical and problem-solving brains. Chess, via India, reached many countries of the world and became very popular. Today, chess is being used in schools as an educational tool for young people, for children.” 

He noted that in recent years, India is consistently improving its performance in Chess. This year, India’s contingent in the Chess Olympiad is the biggest so far. The Prime Minister expressed the hope that India will create a new record of medals this year.

The inaugural Chess Olympiad Torch Relay 

In his welcome address, Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Anurag Singh Thakur invoked the rich history of chess in India. “It is a matter of pride that the Chess Olympiad will come to India for the first time and that the inaugural Chess Olympiad Torch Relay will herald the mega event with 188 nations and more than 2000 players,” he said.

“Indian sports have made rapid strides under Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji's leadership. Not only has he ensured a massive increase in budget for sports and envisioned Khelo India and Fit India movement but also ensured the elite sportspersons are well-supported and focus only on giving off good performances,” he said.

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich thanked the Government of India for taking the initiative the start the new tradition of torch relay which will popularise and galvanize the game all over the world. “FIDE is grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his presence and honoring us,” he said and recalled the Prime Minister’s speech on the occasion of most players playing chess in one place in 2010 on the significance of the game of Chess in building new capabilities and role of combination of education and sports in leading to success. 

The FIDE President hoped

The FIDE President hoped that Chess would become part of all schools across India and all over the world. He said “India today is the fastest-growing Chess country today and you have all grounds to be proud of that. We are grateful for your leadership for all the fantastic work that you are doing in the interest of Chess.”

The 40-day torch relay will see some of the best stars from the Indian chess community carrying the torch. The torch rally will culminate in Mahabalipuram, before heading over to the FIDE Headquarters, Switzerland.

Besides the torch rally, cultural events are planned including an interactive bus tour traveling from one city to another, and a cultural parade varying from region to region featuring the young chess players’ community.

India, which made its debut at the event in 1956 Moscow (27th position), has a gold medal (joint winners with Russia in 2020) and two bronze medals (2021, 2014) from the Chess Olympiad. While the 2020 and 2021 editions were held virtually owing to the Covid 19 pandemic, the 2022 edition will be the first over-the-board Chess Olympiad being held since 2018 in Georgia.

The Philippines last hosted it from Asia

India is hosting the prestigious Chess Olympiad for the first time and in the process, Asia gets to host the event after a gap of 30 years. The Philippines last hosted it from Asia in 1992. Being the host, India is set to field 20 players – their biggest ever contingent – at the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad. India is entitled to field 2 teams each in the Open and Women’s category. Over 2000 participants will be represented in the event from 188 countries.

The 44th Chess Olympiad will be held in Chennai from 28thJuly to 10thAugust, 2022.

RK Boro

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