Chennai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared open the 44th Chess Olympiad at JLN Indoor Stadium, here today. President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), Arkady Dvorkovich, was also present on the occasion.
Addressing the gathering, Modi welcomed all the players and chess lovers from all over the world to India. The tournament, which began today, will continue till August 10, 2022.
Over 2000 participants will be representing the event from 188 countries, the highest in the history of the Chess Olympiad. 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.
The 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad has many firsts to its credit. This is the first time the Chess Olympiad is being held in the place of origin of chess, India. It has come to Asia for the first time in three decades, and has the highest ever number of teams and countries as well, participating. It also has the highest number of entries in the women’s section. Besides, the first ever Torch Relay of the Chess Olympiad started this time.
Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Anurag Singh Thakur, mentioned that 40 days ago, the first-ever torch relay of the Chess Olympiad was handed over to Prime Minister Modi, who then handed it over to Indian chess legend Vishwanathan Anand. Torch Relay travelled to 75 icon places as the country celebrates the 75th year of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
Prime Minister Modi highlighted Tamil Nadu’s strong historical connection with chess. He noted there were many temples in Tamil Nadu with beautiful sculptures that represent different sports. “Sport has always been considered divine in our culture. In fact, in Tamil Nadu, you will find the temple of Chaturanga Vallabhanathar. This temple at Thirupoovanur has an interesting story related to chess. Even God played a game of chess with a princess!” he said.
Modi said that naturally, Tamil Nadu had a strong historical connection with chess. “This is why it is a chess powerhouse for India,” he said, adding that the state produced many of India’s chess grandmasters. “It is home to the finest minds, vibrant culture and the oldest language in the world, Tamil,” he said.
Also present on the occasion were the Governor of Tamil Nadu R N Ravi, and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. K. Stalin.
Top photo: Chess legend Viswanathan Anand carrying the torch before the start of the Chess Olympiad, today.
– global bihari bureau