History will be scripted as India is all set to host the biggest chess event in the world, the Chess Olympiad, for the first time ever.
The 44th edition of the extravaganza will be held later this year in the mecca of chess- Chennai. The participant’s list will be a virtual who’s who of world Chess, with participants from more than 150 countries.
“It’s a great honour for India to host such a big event. This shows the position of the country in the chess world. I’m thankful to everyone involved who supported us in making this happen. This is a historic step and I believe it will take Indian chess to greater heights,” said Bharat Singh Chauhan, Secretary, All India Chess Federation (AICF), who played a crucial role in bringing the Olympiad to India.
Here are some interesting facts that led the 44th Chess Olympiad to become a reality for India:
FIDE’s search for a new host post-Russia-Ukraine war
The 44th edition of the Chess Olympiad was initially scheduled to take place in Russia. However, with the war-like situation between Russia and Ukraine, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) began searching for new hosts and invited new bidders.
A timely move by AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan
While the FIDE was looking for new hosts, All India Chess Federation Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan sensed the opportunity. Having shared a good relationship and reputation with the international federation and its officials, Chauhan made a quick movement and got in touch with FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich.
Within 24-hour time, using all his experience, Chauhan did some preliminary enquiries and immediately conveyed to the FIDE President that India was ready to bid in principle. AICF’s willingness to leave no stone unturned went in India’s favour.
After successfully getting the official rights to host the tournament, Chauhan sums up by saying, “Cannot complain about anything in life now.”
Support from the Tamil Nadu government
Chauhan was at his best in setting up a quick and crucial meeting with Chief Minister Stalin, who instantly approved, assured and endorsed the government’s support for the event. Whole-hearted support by Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister MK Stalin clinched it for Chennai.
The city is steeped in chess culture and earlier hosted the World Chess Championship in 2013 between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen.
1200 rooms for the participants were booked in a single day and the Convention Centre of Four Points Sheraton was decided as the playing venue.
Requisite $10 million guarantee
The AICF was quick in its movements as it fulfilled the hosting criteria set by FIDE within less than a week.
They were able to answer all the queries by FIDE satisfactorily, had all the plans in place and also ensured the $10 million guarantee. This made India’s bid stronger than most of the other countries and put them in a better position.
Chess great Anand’s endorsement of India’s bid
Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand endorsed India’s bid which gave AICF a huge boost, according to Chauhan.
The strong efforts from the federation and Secretary Chauhan brought the impossible to reality as FIDE granted India the rights to host the Olympiad which has been taking place for the last 95 years.