Published: 20th July 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: On International Chess Day, let's look at the preps underway for 44th Chess Olympiad in Tamil Nadu
The 44th Chess Olympiad which is organised by FIDE is all set to begin on July 28, 2022, in Tamil Nadu. What is the state doing to prepare for the event? Why is it so important? Let’s find out
For the first time, the biennial chess tournament that is organised by International Chess Federation (FIDE) is coming to India, in Tamil Nadu from July 28 to August 10, 2022. What better day to talk about the event than on International Chess Day which is today, July 20. The day is of marked significance as FIDE was established in Paris on this day in 1924.
With preparations for the event going on in full swing in Tamil Nadu, let’s find out what exactly is the Chess Olympiad event and how this year’s event stands out among others.
What is the Chess Olympiad event?
The Chess Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament that is organised by FIDE in which teams representing different nations compete with each other. Each FIDE-recognised chess association can enter a team into the Olympiad, which has no connection with the Olympic games. Each team has up to five players — four regular players and one reserve player. Currently, the gold medal is held by Russia, the silver medal by the United States and the bronze medal by India.
Why is this year’s Olympiad iconic?
After two consecutive virtual Olympiad events, this year, the Olympiad event is coming to Tamil Nadu, India for the first time. The Chess Olympiad 2022 was earlier meant to be held in Moscow. However, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Moscow could no longer be the host. As a result, the All India Chess Federation (AICF) and the Tamil Nadu government stepped up to take responsibility for conducting the event in Chennai. This year’s Olympiad is also all set to break records as the highest number of countries and teams — 187 countries registered with 189 teams — have registered for the event. Earlier, the Batumi Olympiad (43rd Chess Olympiad), which was held in 2018, had set a record with 184 and 150 teams in the open and women's sections respectively from 179 countries.
What preparations are being made for it?
Although the Olympic hosting rights are usually awarded to a country four years prior to the event, the AICF and the Tamil Nadu government had only four months time to prepare for it this time. However, the government has left no stone unturned when it comes to preparations for the Olympiad event. The horse named Thambi is the official mascot of the event. The state government has also sanctioned Rs 92 crore for the event. Chief Minister MK Stalin flagged off a fleet of 15 buses with slogans, such as “Namma Chess, Namma Pride,” to mark the event. Flash mobs were held at the Goripalayam junction and Vishaal de Mall premises to spread awareness about the event among the public. Additionally, Collector S Aneesh Sekhar and Corporation Commissioner Simranjeet Singh Kahlon on Sunday, July 17 morning took part in a cycle rally for the same.
In fact, netizens took to Twitter to appreciate how Chennai’s iconic Napier Bridge has been painted in black and white just like a chess board. Additionally, superstar Rajnikanth released a teaser video for the event on Friday, July 15. The video also featured AR Rahman and Chief Minister MK Stalin. However, reports have suggested that despite all these efforts, the first stop for tourists — the airport — is “cluttered and congested.” The work on the approach road outside the terminals of the airport is ongoing and could hamper vehicular traffic.
What is the new tradition that has been introduced this year?
Well, it doesn’t end with elaborate preparations. What’s new this year is the introduction of the torch relay tradition. It will be a celebration of chess and also an acknowledgement that India is the birthplace of chess. The torch relay will travel across different cities in India, and then move on to different countries in the world before reaching the host country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the torch run on June 19 at Indira Gandhi Stadium in Delhi and handed over the flame to India’s first Grandmaster (GM) Viswanathan Anand. In fact, several Indian GMs in chess have been carrying the flame and will visit 75 cities in India before reaching Mahabalipuram on July 27.