It is not often one gets a welcome with folded hands at a suicide point. But tourists at the Doddabetta Peak, a high vantage point in the hill station of Ooty, were pleasantly surprised to see one. Apart from the lush valleys to the breathtaking view of blue hills and misty lands, tourists were attracted to a life size cutout of a ‘horse’, clad in white veshti and shirt, welcoming them.
From the colourful Sim’s Park to high altitude Lamb’s Rock, the veshti-shirt clad horse greeted tourists in all major spots in Coonoor too.
Not just tourist places, ever since Tamil Nadu bagged the hosting rights for the Chess Olympiad 2022, the government has been going a whole hog on promoting the event across the State.
The horse named ‘Thambi’ is the official mascot of the event.
The Chess Olympiad 2022 was originally scheduled to be held in Russia. However, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) decided to change the venue due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, giving India an opportunity to host the world’s biggest chess event for the first time, which will see over 2,000 visitors and players from nearly 200 countries.
Event to start from July 28
On its part, the Tamil Nadu government was even agile to clinch the hosting rights for the prestigious event. The 44th Chess Olympiad will be held between July 28 and August 10 in Mamallapuram, a coastal town and UNESCO Heritage site, located 40 km south of Chennai.
“The preparation for the Chess Olympiad has been immaculate. From the torch relays to other preparations, the Tamil Nadu government has done extraordinary work and things are going on to the tune,” said Sanjay Kapoor, President, All India Chess Federation.
Not just the venue, the Tamil Nadu government also sanctioned ₹92 crore for the event. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin unveiled the logo and official mascot for the event. He also flagged off a fleet of 15 buses with promotional slogans, such as ‘Namma Chess, Namma Pride’, to mark the event.
“We are thankful to the Tamil Nadu government for bringing this mega event to Chennai. Both the government and AICF are taking many initiatives to promote awareness about the game even to the smaller towns,” said Hariharan V, General Secretary (In-charge), Tamil Nadu State Chess Association.
The State chess federation also conducted chess tournaments in all 38 districts of Tamil Nadu and shortlisted one girl and boy from each of these districts to visit the Olympiad.
A record 187 teams in the open section, the highest-ever for any Chess Olympiad, have registered for the greatest chess showdown in India. The women section has attracted 162 entries, the highest ever and India will be fielding two teams in this section for the first time.
Team USA will be the top seeds in the open section with Azerbaijan seeded second and host India at the third. Russia and China — the two Chess powerhouses — will not participate in the tournament, brightening the medal chances in favour of India.