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PM Modi inaugurates 44th Chess Olympiad

PM Modi inaugurates 44th Chess Olympiad

July 30, 2022

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai on Thursday evening, which was followed by a magnificent cultural display highlighting Tamil culture’s lengthy journey from the ancient Sangam age to the current Tamil Nadu. The world’s largest team chess competition, with players from 187 countries, begins on Friday at a hotel in Mamallapuram, south of Chennai.

In his inaugural speech, Modi said the arrangements for the mega event were made in a short time and promised that those who reached Chennai to take part in the tournament would be treated like gods as per the tradition of India. “We will help you to bring your best game to the board,” he said.

“This is the first time the chess olympiad is being held at the origin of chess in India, and it is coming to Asia for the first time in three decades. And this time, it has the highest number of countries, number of teams, and number of female chess players participating,” Modi said, adding that it was going to be a memory forever.

Modi also invoked the significance of health and wellness. He said the post-pandemic time made people aware of the importance of fitness and wellness, “both physical and mental,” he said. Also asserting the significance of investing in sports infrastructure, Modi said “there has never been a better time for sports in India than the present time”.

Referring to the victorious performance of Indian teams in the Olympics as well as other sports events, Modi said, “Sports is seen as the great proportion of joy.” “Our talented youngsters from small towns and villagers are bringing the glory. It is heartening to see women are leading India’s sports revolution,” he said inaugurating the event.

Chief Minister M K Stalin said he had a special interest to host the event in Tamil Nadu. “After the scheduled venue in Russia was cancelled, I directed my officers to grab the opportunity if that comes to India. In March, I made the first announcement in this regard… Usually, it seems a minimum of 18 months were required to prepare for such an international game. But we formed about 18 committees and managed to organise it in just four months,” Stalin said.

Stating that the Chess was the modern version of the traditional board game saturanga vilayattu, Stalin said the Olympiad was now being held near the coastal town Sadurangapattinam, the home of the game. He also recalled the contributions of Manuel Aaron, the first Indian chess master, and Viswanathan Anand, a five-time world champion from Chennai.

Stalin said that of the 73 Indian grandmasters, 26 were from Tamil Nadu. “That means 36 per cent of Indian grandmasters are from Tamil Nadu. It is a game of intelligence and mathematics. And Chennai can be rightly called as the chess capital of India,” he said.

He said Olympiad’s veshti-clad mascot Thambi was a symbol of brotherhood. “It is to indicate that we are all one fraternity. Former chief minister (and DMK founder) C N Annadurai used to call everyone Thambi. The mascot was named after those memories,” he said. He added that the state’s prestigious archaeological excavation site, Keeladi, also had several pieces of evidence of chaturanga games–such as elephants and horses and all those essential characters of chess made of terracotta.

The inaugural event was also a venue for art and cultural events, such as a special dance-song “Vanakkam Chennai, Vanakkam Chess”. Players from different countries received a musical welcome when they arrived at the venue. Before the inauguration, a grand musical show sparkled with classy lighting, capturing the ancient Tamil history in a nutshell. Thousands of dancers and artists led by Tamil director Vignesh Sivan and performed as veteran actor Kamal Haasan narrated the rich history and culture of the state. 

Source: The Indian Express

Read: Karnataka State U15 chess championship

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