India to host FIDE Chess Olympiad

Fédération Internationale des Échecs  (FIDE)

The FIDE Chess Olympiad will be held later this year in Chennai, India according to a FIDE press release. The decision was made by the FIDE Council yesterday after postponing the event in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. FIDE President Nigel Short announced via Twitter, “Due to the deteriorating geopolitical situation, FIDE Council will review the holding of official FIDE events in Russia.”

New bids would be accepted for hosting the biennial event. Almost immediately speculation swirled about the new venue. Certainly holding it anywhere in Europe would be very risky. Would it be the UAE that hosted one of the best Olympiads in 1986? Would South Africa finally get its chance? How about Asia? GM Humpy Koneru made an appeal to FIDE to award the Olympiad to India.

There is certainly some rationale for what the Indian legend is stating. India is perhaps the fastest-growing chess power and has been so for decades. Viswanathan Anand has led the movement as the country’s first Grandmaster and boasts nearly 70 GMs.

Yesterday, the FIDE Council made its announcement that India would indeed be the host of the 2022 Chess Olympiad.

The FIDE Council has approved today the bid presented by the All India Chess Federation (AICF) to host the 2022 Chess Olympiad in Chennai, the capital of the Tamil Nadu state.

The exact schedule is still being discussed and will be announced in the coming days, but the event will take place between the end of July and the beginning of August, not very far off from the dates originally planned. The venue will be the convention centre at the Four Points by Sheraton, located in the Mahabalipuram area, one of the main touristic destinations in southern India.

Situated in the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, this city of 7 million inhabitants is also home to the legendary World Champion Viswanathan Anand, the first-ever Grandmaster from India. But the chess tradition of Chennai goes even further back, as the first Indian player to ever achieve the International Master title, Manuel Aaron, also grew up in the city. And, of course, Chennai previously hosted the 2013 World Championship, where Magnus Carlsen was first crowned World Champion, defeating Vishy Anand.

The AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan, who is also a Chairman of the FIDE Technical Commission (TEC), underlined the importance of the experience already gained by him and his team in recent years. “The experience with Delhi Chess Open, the largest event of its kind in the world, will be a big help, as we have already dealt with large numbers. But Olympiad is a big game. I am sure we will make it the best,” he said.

The 44th Olympiad, which was supposed to take place in Moscow and Khanty-Mansiysk, was shifted out of Russia following FIDE’s reaction to the war in Ukraine.

The biennial Olympiad was to be held this summer in Moscow after Belarus lost the 2020 bid due to not achieving satisfactory marks on planning the event. The event had been postponed due to the COVID-19 and an online version was held in 2020 and 2021. However, federations were already making their final plans when Russia rained fury onto Ukraine. An alternate venue was needed and the events unfolded quickly.

Secretary Singh stated in an interview with ChessBase India that the process took 10 days. Although he stated the hotel is booked, the dates are pending. There are few that will object to this decision. India is a chess superpower, has a rich national chess culture and the support of the government. India seems poised to inspire the chess world.

Video by ChessBase India

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

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