Moved out of Russia, Chess Olympiad to be held in Chennai now

CHENNAI, Mar 16: The 44th Chess Olympiad, which was moved out of Russia after it invaded Ukraine, will be organised in Chennai later this year, making it the second major global event of the sport to be held in India after the World Championship match in 2013.
The announcement was made by Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin on his Twitter page on Tuesday night.
“Delighted that the Chess Capital of India is set to host the 44th Chess Olympiad! A proud moment for Tamil Nadu! Chennai warmly welcomes all the Kings and Queens from around the world! #ChessOlympiad2022,” he said in the tweet.
“It’s official now….India will host the 44th World Chess Olympiad 2022 at Chennai!” the All-India Chess Federation added on its Twitter handle.
The All-India Chess federation (AICF) had submitted a guarantee of USD10 million (approx Rs 70 crore) to FIDE to host the tournament. The Olympiad was moved out of Russia after it invaded neighbouring Ukraine on February 24.
The Chess Olympiad is a biennial team event in which teams from some 190 countries compete over a two-week period. It was supposed to take place in Moscow from July 26 to August 8.
The other events that have been moved away from Russia are the first Chess Olympiad for People with Disabilities and the 93rd FIDE Congress.
The last chess event of such stature to come to India was the 2013 world championship clash between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen, the current world No.1.
The invasion of Ukraine has led to a slew of sporting cancellations in Russia with the International Olympic Committee urging member countries to ensure that no events are hosted by the country.
“It’s a matter of great pride and responsibility that we are entrusted with and we are committed to make it a grand success. The entire Chess fraternity of the country is ready to come together for this,” said Dr. Sanjay Kapoor, All India Chess Federation President.
“For the first time ever, India has been awarded the rights to host the prestigious Olympiad. Chennai is the ‘Mecca of Chess’ in India. This state has chess in its blood. The clearance (for hosting the Olympiad) was obtained within 48 hours.”
Delhi and Ahmedabad were the other cities considered for the host-city options, he said.
The AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan added, “I cannot complain about anything in life now. All the countries of the world now have this great opportunity to come under one roof in the country where Chess was born. My thanks to Thiru M K Stalin the Hon’ble CM to make this dream come true.”
The participation of Russian players is in jeopardy in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine by the country as FIDE has suspended them.
Chauhan said, “Whatever FIDE decides, we will follow. One thing is very clear and loud – We love peace.”
As for the COVID-19 norms, the AICF secretary said, “the recommendations that are made by the government will be followed. A lot of thought has been put into it (the event).
“COVID-19 is one of the major factors behind choosing to host the event in Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram). That is why the event will not be hosted in the main city.”
The Olympiad is held over 11 rounds in both open and women’s category with likely participation of over 2000 players. This is a team event with five players and one trainer allowed per team in both the sections.
World Champion Magnus Carlsen has often turned out to play for Norway and almost every top player of the world is present in this event to represent their country.
India were the joint winners of the gold medal in the last Olympiad that was organised online.
This time the team will be led by Viswanathan Anand who will have the support of P Harikrishna and Vidit Gujarathi for sure.
The other two members are still unclear but young guns like Arjun Erigaise, Nihal Sarin and some truly special players like B Adhiban, Sasikiran and few others have a strong case.
The final decision for the team selection in open will be taken on May 1 as per AICF rules.
In the women’s section, Koneru Humpy will spearhead the challenge with D Harika, and R Vaishali as nearly confirmed participants.
The other two places up for grabs have Tania Sachdev as a strong candidate while Bhakti Kulkarni and few others will try to be part of the team.
As host, India will be entitled to field an additional team and this could likely go to juniors or the ‘B’ team in both sections. The final decision will be taken by AICF on May 1. (PTI)