India, which is already a global chess superpower, has now also emerged as the potential host for many global chess events, according to a top official of the International Chess Federation (FIDE).
“India is one of the biggest chess superpowers in the world. I truly believe and expect India to host some of the major FIDE chess events such as Chess World Cup, World Rapid and Blitz Championships or even the World Championship Match,” FIDE’s Director-General Emil Sutovsky told BusinessLine.
Sutovsky’s comments come in the backdrop of India hosting the 44th Chess Olympiad at Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu. Originally scheduled to be held in Russia, the venue of the Chess Olympiad was changed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With just four months left for the entire preparation, the Indian government, the All India Chess Federation (AICF) and Tamil Nadu government took up all arrangements on a war footing to pull off the world’s biggest chess event. Besides a massive publicity blitz in the run up to the event, the Tamil Nadu government also impressed the global chess community with a grand opening ceremony in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month.
“Very few times in the history of Chess Olympiad, where it was well organised in such a short time but that was many years ago and you didn’t have 100 teams participating. Here you have twice that number of teams,” Sutovsky said.
“What specially pleases us is the attention given by the Indian government and Tamil Nadu government because it is rare to have a head of state for the opening ceremony and it underlines the importance of the event for India,” he added.
Sutovsky said there are several top events as part of the World Championship including Chess World Cup, World Rapid and Blitz Championships, World Championship Match, Women World Championship Match and various events of high prominence, where India can be a potential host.
While India was among the front-runners to host the FIDE World Cup 2023, the South Korea Chess Federation last week announced its intention to host the World Cup. India is yet to submit any bid.
A Grand Master himself, Sutovsky said hosting big events like the Chess Olympiad can trigger a big trend in favour of the game. “In Norway, it happened with Magnus Carlsen, in the US, it happened with Bobby Fischer. Sometimes the trigger happens with famous players and sometimes with major events like this.”
Sutovsky says chess can act as a ‘social lift’ for kids and families from poor economic backgrounds. “I know many cases where players, who played either at Grand Master or Master level, got jobs in prominent companies which had sponsored them. That really changed their lives.”
He added that while chess has already achieved a status among government, public as well as sponsors, the country can build more awareness by giving wide coverage to the game and highlight the success stories of chess players to attract more young talents to the game.
“In the last 10 years, India has been moving very fast in the global chess community and I think the momentum after the Olympiad will be very much on the side of India,” he added.