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Chess Olympiad in Chennai: Teams, schedule, format and venue details

India is hosting the world’s biggest chess event. Chennai will be the host city for the 44th Chess Olympiad, which will take place from July 28 to August 10.

The All India Chess Federation (AICF) is leaving no stone unturned to make the tournament a grand success.

On June 9, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin unveiled the Chess Olympiad’s official logo, and mascot “Thambi” in Chennai.

Also read: Norway Chess 2022: Anand makes a blunder, now in third place

“This is the first time that India is hosting a sporting event of this magnitude in any discipline and we decided that the mascot of the Olympiad should be the ‘knight’ popularly known as the stuntman on the chess board,” AICF Secretary and Olympiad Director Bharat Singh Chauhan said at the launch.

For the first time at the Olympiad, a torch relay has been included by FIDE. It will be a part of each Olympiad from now on.

Also read: Lifetime opportunity for youngsters, says Anand as countdown for Chess Olympiad begins

The Federal presents to you a complete guide to the Chess Olympiad.

How India got the hosting rights

The biennial Chess Olympiad was scheduled to be held in Moscow Russia but it was awarded to India after Russia invaded Ukraine. The International Chess Federation (FIDE) began searching for new hosts and invited new bidders.

While the FIDE was looking for new hosts, AICF Secretary Chauhan sensed the opportunity. Having shared a good relation and reputation with the international federation and its officials, Chauhan made a quick and deft move and got in touch with FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich.

With the help of the Tamil Nadu government, assurance of the $10 million guarantee needed to host the tournament, and five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand endorsing India’s bid, the Chess Olympiad came to India.

Also read: Russia checkmated out of Chess Olympiad; India makes a move

“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,” said Chauhan.

The city of Chennai is steeped in chess culture and earlier hosted the World Chess Championship in 2013 between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen.

The venue

The Olympiad venue is the Four Points by Sheraton Mahabalipuram Resort and Convention Centre. It is located on the East Coast Road (ECR).

The teams

The Olympiad will be held in two sections: Open and Women. The national teams of all member federations have the right to participate in the competition. Affiliated organisations that represent an autonomous territory which is contained within no more than one Federation have the right to participate upon FIDE Council’s approval.

According to the AICF, a record 343 teams in open and women’s sections from 187 countries across the globe have registered so far for the Chess Olympiad.

World champion Magnus Carlsen will be part of the Norway team.

India will have two teams each in both open and women’s categories.

Indian squads

Open – India A: Vidit Gujrathi, P Harikrishna, Arjun Erigaisi, S L Narayanan, K Sasikiran.

India B: Nihal Sarin, D Gukesh, B Adhiban, R Praggnanandhaa, Raunak Sadhwani.

Women – India A: Koneru Humpy, D Harika, R Vaishali, Tania Sachdev, Bhakti Kulkarni.

India B team: Vantika Agarwal, Soumya Swaminathan, Mary Ann Gomes, Padmini Rout, Divya Deshmukh.

Chess Olympiad schedule.

Format and system

In both sections: Swiss system, 11 rounds. The pairing system is described in “FIDE Olympiad Pairing Rules”. The teams ranked first in the pairing list shall have the white pieces on the odd-numbered boards, the black pieces on the even-numbered boards.

Composition of teams

In both sections, the teams shall be made up of four players plus one reserve. Each team shall have a captain, who may also be one of the players. The captain shall be permitted to appoint a deputy to exercise his/her functions, the Chief Arbiter shall be informed in writing of such a substitution.

Each federation shall be represented by a Chief of delegation. It may either appoint a person exclusively to this function, or entrust the team captain, or one of the players or the reserve(s). The chief of delegation is responsible for all administrative matters and relations with the Organiser.

All India Chess Federation (AICF) Secretary and Olympiad Director Bharat Singh Chauhan.

Conditions of victory

In each section, matches are scored by match points. A win scores 2 points. A draw scores 1 point. A loss scores 0 points. A team with the highest number of match points in the relevant final standings shall be declared Olympiad Champion. There is also a system for tie-break.

The standings in the combined classification (open & women) shall be determined by the sum of places (open team + women team): the federation having the lower number shall be declared Combined Classification Winner.

The trophies

The winning team in the open section will receive the “Hamilton-Russell Cup” while the winning team in the women’s section will receive the “Vera Menchik Cup”. The winning federation in combined classification will receive the “Nona Gaprindashvili Trophy”.

Chess Olympiad mascot.

Anand to mentor Indian squads

Anand will not play in the Olympiad but will mentor Indian teams. He said that he had already decided not to take part in the tournament before it was awarded to India.

“I had already made up my mind that I would not play the Moscow Olympiad. I don’t think you could suddenly play just because the venue changed. I didn’t feel like playing before and I just stuck with that,” Anand told Sportstar.

“I’m genuinely excited that so many of our youngsters will get a chance to play. It’s not like I was really holding up lots of spots. You are holding one. I think I’d already decided not to play and it’s very exciting that they get this break. It’s nice that for many of them, their first Olympiad will be the one they’re playing at home. It’s the first Olympiad in India. I’m happy and, of course, I want it to be a success,” he added.

“I am playing very few events these days and after playing many Olympiads, I thought it was time for the younger ones to play. India has many talented youngsters like Nihal, Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh, Arjun and a few more,” Anand had said last month.

Anand will not play in the Olympiad but will mentor Indian teams.

History of Olympiad

The very first Olympiad was an unofficial one. In 1924 an attempt was made to include chess in the Olympic Games, but failed because of the problems with distinguishing between amateur and professional players, according to the Chess Olympiad’s website.

“While the 1924 Summer Olympics was taking place in Paris, the 1st unofficial Chess Olympiad also took place in Paris. FIDE was formed on Sunday, July 20, 1924, the closing day of the 1st unofficial Chess Olympiad. This historical day became not only a birthday of FIDE but also the international day of chess. FIDE organized the first Official Olympiad in 1927 which took place in London. There were 16 participating nations in the 1st Chess Olympiad. Another unofficial Olympiad was held in Budapest, Hungary in 1926, as for the second official Chess Olympiad – it was organized by Hague, Netherlands in 1928,” it said.

The previous Olympiad was held in Georgia in 2018. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament was not held in 2020. First it was postponed to 2021 and later cancelled.

In August 2020, India and Russia were declared joint winners of the 2020 Online Chess Olympiad after internet disconnection and server malfunction issues marred the final.

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