The ticket price of the 44th Chess Olympiad has put several chess enthusiasts of the game on the back foot.
As per the All India Chess Federation (AICF) ticket booking site, the price for the general category audience has been fixed at ₹2,000 per day for Hall 2 and ₹3,000 for Hall 1 while the ticket price for foreigners is set at ₹6,000 and ₹8,000. Tickets for students under 19 years, women, and Tamil Nadu government staff are priced at ₹200 and ₹300 respectively.
The event will be hosted in two halls. Hall 1 comprises top-ranking teams (28 boards in Open and 21 in the Women’s section) while Hall 2 will have the remaining boards.
“I am a professional Chess player myself and I don’t think I will be able to spend ₹2,000-3,000 per day to witness the tournament. Secondly, Chess is not a game where you can learn something by observing the play in person. It is better to follow their moves online,” said Radhika, a working professional.
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.
Tamil Nadu bagged the hosting rights for the prestigious event, which 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 event venue is also far from the city and it is not feasible for everyone to travel all the way to Mamallapuram,” Radhika said.
However, not everyone is on the same board. Prasath Shankar, Founder, Rapid Chess Academy said, “People who are really interested in the game and willing to learn will surely spend and attend the event.”
“Also, ₹2,000 is not a big amount for such a global event where Chess enthusiasts can meet global champions and Grand Masters, interact with them and learn new techniques,” he added.
An official of the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association said despite the premium pricing, tickets for the event are already full. He added that the State government is also planning to bring school students free of cost to experience the event.
An official of AICF, who did not wish to be quoted, said the pricing has been kept at a premium mainly because the event is held at a hotel focused on chess aficionados. “This is not a cricket game held in a stadium where we can sell 25,000 tickets. We can only entertain 600-1,000 guests in a day which is the maximum limit,” the official noted.
The Chess Olympiad is likely to see 2,000 visitors and players from over 180 countries.
On its part, the AICF is also sponsoring 350 children across the country to witness the event by taking care of their air/rail tickets, hotel stay, food, etc. “Many of these children will also be accompanied by their parents, so we need to factor all those aspects,” he added.