What started as a mock drill for the 44th Chess Olympiad turned out to be a world record event. With four days to go for the start of the Olympiad, to be held at Mamallapuram, an open Chess tournament was conducted on Sunday to test the efficacy of the system and infrastructure. A record was created on the number of maximum live games (700-plus Chess Boards were connected to the Internet, and fans could see the game from anywhere in the world) in an open rapid chess tournament.

A total of 1,434 persons registered by paying ₹200 for the open tournament, and 1,414 turned up, thereby creating the world record. Tamil Nadu’s GM Vishnu Prasanna, the highest rated player in the fray, notched a 9/9 in the Swiss League event, and carried home a prize money of ₹5 lakh.

The mock drill was to make sure that everything worked well before the Olympiad. Everything did, except for issues such as power fluctuation and sanitation, said an official of the organising committee, and these are being looked into. The Chess Olympiad, which will kickstart on July 29, will see participation from 187 countries — the largest-ever in the 100-year-old history of the tournament.

With four days to go for the start of the Olympiad, the old town of Mamallapuram is gearing up to host the mega event.Watch the video to see the venue and meet the organisers.

“We are fully set to start the game,” said R Anantharam, who was an arbiter for six Olympiads in the past, and will be part of the Appeal Body this time. He says the venue and arrangements here are way ahead of others.

The moment International Chess federation (FIDE) pulled Russia out, the Tamil Nadu government and All India Chess Federation (AICF) sprung into action, pitching to host the global event. A country gets four years to prepare for the event. “However, we had only four months to prepare,” he said.

The organisers — FIDE, AICF, Government of India and Tamil Nadu government — are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the Olympiad is a great success. Chennai city and the road leading to the venue has been painted in black-and-white, and last-minute arrangements are being made at the venue. Over 3,000 cops will be in action during the entire duration of the Olympiad.

A dedicated centre has been set up in Chennai airport to receive the visiting players without any hassles of immigration formalities. “We have made 8-12 immigration counters exclusively for the players and delegates. We have also got three dedicated belts for player luggages,” said AK Verma, one of the members involved in organising the Olympiad. The Tamil Nadu government has also allocated an express corridor to quickly transport players from their hotels to the event venue.

The State government has earmarked ₹92 crore for the event to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi on Thursday at the Nehru Indoor Stadium in the city. If the current expenditure is any indication, people in the know say that the cost may well be double the budgeted amount.

It is a proud moment for India as the country is hosting the event for the first time. Interestingly, the event has returned to Asia for the first time after a gap of 30 years. A total of 3,000 foreign guests, including 1,740 players, are expected to arrive for the Olympiad. Nearly 30 hotels in the East Coast Road near the venue have been booked for the event.