CHENNAI: The city embraced its chess roots by turning out in large numbers for the ‘Olympiad Curtain Raiser Rapid Chess Tournament 2022’, on Sunday. The one-day test meet, essentially held to iron out minor chinks before the Olympiad, saw 1,414 players, including Grandmasters, from multiple countries battle it out over about 6,000 matches.
GM Vishnu Prasanna justified his top billing by winning all his games (swiss format). “The day-long event is a good exercise for us to see a few of the minor issues that could crop up,” R Anantharam, the venue in-charge, told TNIE. In the process, the meet created a world record for all games being played on electronic boards.
Sports Development Minister Siva V Meyyanathan said all preparatory work for the international event has been completed. The venue itself, both the temporary structure that’s about 2/3rds the size of a football field as well as the permanent structure, looks primed to welcome the players. The organisers are confident the nuts and bolts have been screwed into place. Viewing galleries have also been installed in both halls.
About 4,000 police personnel will be deployed at the venues and players’ hotels, and 366 medical staff and 30 ambulances will be on standby, the minister said, adding that hospitals too would be kept ready in case of any emergency.
To ensure nothing goes wrong during the event, Chief Minister MK Stalin has deployed senior officials from 19 departments, and the 47 varieties of food players will be served are to go through a quality check by food safety authorities.
‘State’s efforts helped game reach every nook and corner’
Meyyanathan said that because of the State government’s intensive efforts in conducting the Chess Olympiad, the reach of the game has reached every nook and corner of India. The torch for the Chess Olympiad, lit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will reach Mahabalipuram on July 27 after touring 75 cities in the country.
Sunday’s event itself had the feel of an exhibition, with kids, some as young as eight, playing against people six times their age. Outside the convention centre, people of all walks of life had a fun day out in the sun. That the venue was overcrowded spoke volumes about the city’s affection for the game.
Minister TM Anbarasan and MLA Udhayanidhi Stalin were among the well-known personalities who made some moves on a Chess board to show their interest in the game.
In the morning, a mini-marathon was conducted from Marina Beach to lighthouse to raise awareness about the Olympiad. Ministers Ma Subramanian, PK Sekar Babu, and Siva V Meyyanathan took part.
(with inputs from S Kumaresan)