Chess: India’s grandiose Chennai Olympiad is a bid for world status

A record budget and a nation’s lofty sporting ambition are the driving forces behind the 180-nation Olympiad in Chennai, which is approaching its final rounds this weekend.

The state of Tamil Nadu and its chief minister, MK Stalin, originally approved a budget of $10 million, which has since been exceeded by more than a third. It’s far more than any other chess event history has ever dreamed of. MK Stalin’s name is no coincidence. He was born in 1953, and when Joseph Stalin died four days later, the baby’s father decided on his son’s name.

When it became clear in February that Moscow could not continue as the site of the Olympiad, an Indian grandmaster found a way around state bureaucracy and made the proposal, which was approved in a day, directly to the Minister. The Olympiad is labor and technology intensive, with 1,500 players, large teams of referees and support staff, and special panels to relay live coverage of each game to venues Chess web. The game starts at 10.30am BST daily and is free to watch on chess24.comcommented by managing directors Peter Leko and Peter Svidler.

India are the second seed behind the United States in the open event and the first seed in the women’s competition. The team to watch is India 2, led by 16-year-olds Dommaraju Gukesh and Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, both a year or two away from the world summit. Norway v India 2, when Gukesh will face Magnus Carlsen for the first time, would be the defining match of the entire Olympiad, but Norway’s third-round loss to Italy makes the pairing less likely.

Hundreds of children from all over India enjoy free food, transport and accommodation every day to visit the Olympiad and talk to legendary former world champion Vishy Anand.

Chess is already a major Indian sport, and with the boost from Chennai, it could take off more like it did in Russia in the 1930s.

The early rounds hinted that even more spectacular success might be possible for the host nation. America’s elite GM team, and even its leader former world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana, looked uncharacteristically timid in the opening rounds, dropping several half points to relative minnows Paraguay and Georgia.

The worst followed for the Americans in the fourth round on Monday, when the United States were lucky to escape with a 2-2 draw against Uzbekistan, whose rising star Nodirbek Abdusattorov, 17, was defeated Caruana in a dramatic finale.

India vs. USA and India 2 vs. USA could be a game-changer to elevate India to the level of the three existing chess superpowers, of which Russia and China are absent from Chennai.

England were one of 20 teams with three wins from three, but from the fifth round they can expect to be matched with the medal contenders. Whether the England players can improve on their No.10 seed and achieve their goal of a top-six finish will only be decided in the final rounds next Monday and Tuesday.

In a sad afterword, the Pakistani teams, having traveled to Chennai, were then withdrawn by their sports organization in protest because, a month earlier, the Olympic torch relay had traveled to Kashmir.


Sam Shankland (USA) vs. Domingos Junior (Angola), Chennai Olympiad 2022. Blank to play and win.

After White’s next round, Black resigned. What was the hit, and why did Black give up?

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