- How big of an opportunity is this to host the Chess Olympiad in India for the first time?
Chauhan: This is the biggest platform in the chess world to showcase talent from all over the world. The established stars demonstrate their strength while in the upcoming talents you may be seeing the future faces of chess. This opportunity to host the Olympiad has come at the right time since we are witnessing a huge chess boom and are emerging as a chess force to be reckoned in the world. This is a great opportunity to exhibit our playing strength, our organising ability, to bring in more sponsors and show our culture and heritage to the world.
- Indian Chess has grown rapidly in the last few years. How will hosting the Olympiad help in continuing this growth?
Chauhan: The Olympiad is an opportunity to bring in more sponsors, more money, more facilities, more exposure to the existing players, attract new players and in a way systematise chess in India.
- When did you realise that there is an opportunity to host the Olympiad. Who along with you, played a major role in convincing FIDE that India is ready to host this big tournament?
Chauhan: When the Russia-Ukraine conflict looked like it would not end soon and a casual probing message to FIDE President Dworkovich opened the gates wide open for us to host the Olympiad . We moved at lightening speed, got the required funds from Tamil Nadu govt, booked 1200 hotel rooms in a day and in short in less than a week we had all the plans and money in place. It was a team effort by AICF
- AICF did not get too much time to prepare for this tournament. Hence, What do you think are the challenges you may face in hosting the Olympiad successfully?
Chauhan: Strong intentions, a good team, selfless effort should translate into good organization. I have been involved with the Delhi International event which ranks amongst the biggest events in the World. We started with a meagre prize fund of 3.5 lakhs in 2002 and it has enhanced 15 times in as many years. We intend to use all our experience plus more to ensure that the Olympiad is a grand success. In last one year since we took charge of the federation, we haven’t let the pandemic affect our functioning. We organized online Arbiter refresher courses and developed more than 500 arbiters. Starting at the grassroot level, we created a pool of trained arbiters and organizers. We organized about 28 national championships, enhanced prize money for tournaments. We created welfare funds, engaged with sponsors successfully. We also took chess to unexplored or not so popular destinations and are strengthening our chess in school program. We conceptualised a few new tournaments like the Chess league. On hindsight, you could say that in a way we were preparing for this big one.
- India has performed amazingly in the last two Olympiad. Do you think we can replicate those performances?
Chauhan: In fact we can try to better the previous performances since as hosts we would be eligible to host two teams in both Open and Women’s sections. The immense talent that we have, both our teams are capable of raking in a medal.
- Since tournament like the Chess Olympiad is happening in India for the first time, how big of an impact Viswanathan Anand will make as an ambassador?
Chauhan: Viswanathan Anand is a legend and any event he is associated with rises in stature. He has single handedly spearheaded a chess revolution in India with his chess exploits and this time around hope it acts like a booster shot.