The Chess Olympiad is a biannual celebration of and competition for chess players all over the world that is organized by the Fédération Internationale des Échecs, which is better known as the International Chess Federation in English and often referred to as FIDE. In preparation for every Chess Olympiad, FIDE picks a host country where the Olympiad will be held. For the 44th edition of its Chess Olympiad, FIDE has honoured Chennai this year with the opportunity of hosting the Olympiad in India for the very first time! It will be held from July 28th to August 10th, 2022.
In addition to India being the Olympiad’s host for the very first time, the 44th Chess Olympiad will also be the biggest event that Chennai will host, following only the championship that took place between Indian chess Grand Master Viswanathan Anand and Grand Master Magnus Carlsen. Chennai is seemingly the perfect location for this edition of the Chess Olympiad as it is well known as the ‘mecca of Chess’ and also is the home of not only the 15th world champion GM Viswanathan Anand but also the talented up-and-comer, GM Praggnanandhaa R.
The Olympiad was originally supposed to be held in Russia. However, following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, this decision was repealed and a new host country was sought for. Bharat Singh Chauhan, Secretary for the All-India Chess Federation (AICF; which is affiliated to FIDE) made all the moves necessary to bring the 44th edition of the Chess Olympiad home, to India. Communicating with Arkady Dvorkovich (President of FIDE), gaining the support of Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, and the backing of ₹92 crore sanctioned by the Tamil Nadu government; all these things showed the preparedness with which AICF Secretary and Olympiad Director Bharat Singh Chauhan brought home this virtuous opportunity for Chennai. As has been rightfully stated by Chauhan, it will be a “historic press conference” and a “big moment for all of us”.
To quote Chauhan directly, “It’s a great honour for India to host such a big event. This shows the position of the country in the chess world. I’m thankful to everyone involved who supported us in making this happen. This is a historic step and I believe it will take Indian chess to greater heights”. The townsman of Chennai and Indian chess GM Viswanathan Anand himself has shown his endorsement of the Olympiad, expressing how excited and honoured he feels about the Olympiad being held in Chennai.
Gathering participation from over 2000 chess players from around the globe, Tamil Nadu’s CM, M.K. Stalin, believes that this assembly of chess players for the prestigious Chess Olympiad will encourage the realization of Tamil Nadu’s dreams in the world of sports. The delight in bringing the Chess Olympiad to India can be sensed in Chauhan’s words, directly quoted from when he declared this thrilling news: “What Athens means for Olympics is how India will be to the chess community,” “It was our dream to bring the Chess Olympiad to India and now this announcement adds not only joy but extreme pride.”
44th Chess Olympiad: Returning Offline, Logo and Thambi, First Torch Relay
Over the years of 2020 and 2021, while the world took a pause and we were confined to our homes, the Chess Olympiad shifted to online mediums so as not to halt operations and continue the competition by adapting to the need of the hour. After two years online, the Chess Olympiad 2022 will bring all of its participants together in one location for a ceremony that will be nothing short of an absolutely grand event! The 44th Chess Olympiad is going to be held at Four Points by Sheraton Mahabalipuram Resort & Convention Centre, situated in Mamallapuram.
M.K. Stalin, the CM of Tamil Nadu, revealed the official logo and mascot for the 44th Chess Olympiad on Thursday, June 9th. “Thambi” (meaning ‘younger brother’) is a knight dressed in the traditional attire of Tamil Nadu that is veshti (dhoti), and a shirt that reads ‘Chess Believe’, with joined hands, greeting all guests and participants with a warm ‘Vanakkam’.
CM Stalin also expressed his gratitude by saying, “Hosting the 44th Chess Olympiad is an absolute honour for Chennai and all our officials are putting assiduous efforts to make it a grand and memorable success in the history of Indian Sports”.
One of the most auspicious activities for the Chess Olympiad will take place in its 44th edition, which is the first Olympic-style Torch Relay that shall be a tradition for every following Olympiad henceforth. FIDE has stated that Chennai would be the best place to mark the beginning of this tradition as it is, after all, the Mecca of Chess.
In relation to this decision, Arkady Dvorkovich, President of FIDE), can be directly quoted in saying, “This initiative will help in popularizing the game of chess and galvanising the support of fans across the world. Starting from the next edition of the Olympiad, in line with the traditions of the Olympic Games, the torch will travel across all continents visiting FIDE member territories, ultimately culminating in the host country and city ahead of the opening of the Chess Olympiad.”
Chess Olympiad 2022: Schedule, Format, Time Control, and Some Familiar Names
While the much anticipated 44th Chess Olympiad begins with its Opening Ceremony on 28th July, to allow all participants to settle in and ready themselves, Round 1 takes place on July 29th, with a one-round-per-day norm throughout the Olympiad.
There is only one rest day, which follows Round 6 of the Olympiad on August 3rd, and is scheduled for the full day of August 4th. After the players have replenished themselves and their skills, they shall prepare themselves for the second half of the Olympiad as August 5th brings on Round 7. Coming to a closure with the final round, Round 11, on the 9th of August, the Olympiad shall see its Closing Ceremony on the same day.
The format for the Olympiad shall have teams consisting of four players and one reserve, while each team shall have a captain, who is allowed to be one of the players. The teams will compete in an 11-round Swiss tournament, the time control being set at 90+30, with 30 minutes added to the clock after move 40.
The players include some prolific names such as Vidit Gujrathi, Praggnanandhaa R., Koneru Humpy, and Tania Sachdev, among the Indian players. GM Viswanathan Anand will mentor the Indian squads throughout the Olympiad. Some world-known names of participants also include GM Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana.