Hosting the biggest Chess spectacle, rising stars on the rampage, national and international media focussing on the conduct of the event and speculating big time on India’s bright Medal chances- the Chess Scenario in India couldn’t get better! Right from February 2022 when All India Chess Federation (AICF) moved in whirlwind fashion to bring the Chess Olympiad to India after almost 100 years of its existence, there is a constant positive buzz surrounding the event.
The Indian youngsters as if inspired by the announcement of the Olympiad in their home country have been hitting international headlines with routine regularity, winning various events across Europe. Arjun Erigaisi, D Gukesh, R Praggnanandhaa, R Vaishali have had impressive outings in the last three month or so while Vidit Gujrathi, Pentala Harikrishna, Krishnan Sasikiran, Koneru Humpy, Dronavalli Harika, B. Adhiban to name a few have already established their chess strength amongst the elites.
Nihal Sarin, Divya Deshmukh, S L Narayanan, Raunak Sadhwani are talented teenagers to watch out for while Tania Sachdev, Mary Ann Gomes and Soumya Swaminathan add the much-needed experience and stability to the team. Vantika Agrawal and Bhakti Kulkarni are the other fresh fighters in the team.
As hosts, India is eligible to field two teams in both the Open and Women’s Category and interestingly all 4 teams in both sections have the potential to garner a medal for India. In all probability, both Indian teams are likely to be ranked in the top 20 (the India A Team in top-5 in both sections) despite the expected presence of more than 150 teams in each section.
This is most exciting time for Indians playing at the Olympiad and even more so for the following enthusiasts. Indian squad is motivated like never before, the patriotic fervour is at an all-time high, All India Chess Federation (AICF) is making all the right moves and it is hardly surprising that Corporate India’s interest in chess has kindled like never before!
This is also for the first time that the Indian team is striking it rich with Tamil Nadu government providing a Rs 1 crore sponsorship for the squad while co-sponsors State Bank of India and Indorama, Asia’s leading chemical holding company have pledged Rs 50 lakhs each to the squad.
AICF Secretary, Bharat Singh Chauhan was elated as he said” This is the first time that the Indian Squad has got a sizeable sponsorship, 75% of which would be allotted to the players while the remaining amount would be invested in training the team and kits for the squad. This sponsorship ensured that we could get a trainer of World Championship calibre, Boris Gelfand to work with the squad”.