The AICF President reveals the preparations behind the mega chess event .

India is set to host the Chess Olympiad after a gap of 95 years. It will be the first time for the country to host this prestigious event. It showcases some of the most genius minds in chess. The event will take place in Chennai from 28 July 2022 to 10 August 2022. Thanks to the exemplary effort by the All India Chess Federation (AICF), the dream of hosting one of the biggest chess tournaments is finally real.

Sanjay Kapoor, the President of AICF, spoke to Khel Now in preparation for the major event. He gave his opinion on various topics ranging from preparations, the importance of being the hosts and possibilities of India’s chances of winning at the 44th Chess Olympiad. The hosts will have a 20-member strong representation at the event, hoping to win it. 

Here are the excerpts:

A moment of pride

Sanjay Kapoor emphasised that hosting the event is a major honour. It is the biggest event in chess and Indians should be proud. He was quoted as saying, “Chess Olympiad is the biggest chess event in the world and hosting such an event is absolute pride for the entire Indian chess community. It will also set a higher bar for Indian chess and showcase India’s position in the global circuit. It’s a historic moment. The event will be played in India for the first time ever and I believe it will be an unforgettable and great learning experience for our players as well as chess enthusiasts who will witness the world’s greatest chess players live in action, which is quite unusual for Indians.”

“This event will motivate the upcoming talented players in the country. We surely want to take full advantage of this opportunity and showcase India’s potential to become a chess powerhouse,” he added terming the competition a major opportunity to promote the sport.

Inspiration for the next generation

Indian chess players will benefit from the hosting of the Chess Olympiad, according to Kapoor. He believes that watching world-class chess players in action will act as inspiration. In this context, he said, “Top players from over 150 nations will be gathering together for the Olympiad. Imagine the kind of diverse talent that the Indian young players and chess enthusiasts will watch live in action. There will be a great opportunity for them to watch the players and learn strategies, ideas and techniques of the games. Hosting the Olympiad will inspire the next generation of Indian chess players.” 

An update on the preparations

Providing a peek into the efforts of AICF, Sanjay Kapoor listed a whole host of steps taken towards the smooth organisation of the event. He said that “Our team has been working relentlessly while ensuring the executions of the plans. The venue is booked with 3000 rooms for the participants, arbiters and others involved. Our team has been visiting the venue to set up the necessary facilities leaving no stone unturned. We also thank the government for its continuous support. We are using all our experience of conducting the top events and till now everything is going according to the plan.”

Presence of Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand as trainers

Vishwanathan Anand will be the mentor for the Indian players at the Chess Olympiad (Courtesy: Sportstar)

Chess greats Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand will be training the Indian players for the event. Talking about having such legends on board, Kapoor said, “We want to provide the best training facilities and coaching for the Indian contingent so that they can play their best game in the Olympiad. Currently, the first camp is going on in Chennai for the Indian team. The players are training under Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand. These two are legends and they have huge experience playing at the top level. Training under them will definitely encourage our players and will help sharpen their tactical and strategic gameplay ahead of the Olympiad.”

On India’s chances of winning

Sanjay Kapoor clarifies that Indian chess players will be looking to provide a strong challenge to other competitors at the Chess Olympiad. “Indian squad consists of players, who have already given tough challenges to top-notch players at various international events. There is a great mix of experienced players and talented youngsters in the team. Their performances in the recent past showcase that India can pose a tough challenge to many. They’re not here just to participate but fight for the medals.”

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