44th Chess Olympiad and Clever Marketing

World Chess Championship is the biggest event in Chess world. It’s due in 2023 and the current world champion Magnus Carlsen has created a sensation by announcing that he would not play the match with Nepo, who emerged as a Challenger after winning the Candidates tournament.

While he has dropped out of the Championship match he is playing another big event which just started 2 days ago.

Chess Olympiad is another mega event and very different from the World Chess Championship because it is played not as a match (where two players play several games) or as a tournament (where multiple players play individually). Chess Olympiad is played like Olympics – in teams representing their own nations.

This year’s 44th edition was supposed to take place in Russia. However, because of Ukraine-Russia war the event could not be help in Russia. So, at the last minute, India bid for the event and got a chance to host 44th Chess Olympiad!

The event started from 28th July in Chennai and it has been managed beautifully and efficiently – on a grand scale!

This year’s Olympiad has maximum participation (187 countries, 2000+ players!) and most top players including Magnus Carlsen are playing in it. India, being the host, got to nominate 6 teams (3 Men’s and 3 Women’s)! It’s amazing opportunity for 30 Indian chess players to play at such a grand event!

Chennai – the chess capital of India – has been converted into a pilgrimage for Chess lovers. 5000 hotel rooms have been booked by Chess players and chess enthusiasts!

This picture will tell you why Chennai is Chess capital of India. Out of 74 Grand Masters India has produced, 24 hail from the state of Tamil Nadu – probably most of them from the capital city Chennai.

Interestingly, this year marks 75th anniversary of India’s independence and there are 74 Grand Masters. Most likely there should be one more in this event or maybe during the rest of the year – making it 75 GMs in the 75th year of independence! Btw, India had just 4 GMs till year 2000.

The marketing of the event has been excellent! Firstly there was a special song composed by and pictured on A R Rahman!

There was a torch (similar to Olympics) which relayed across the country, most states and cities and events/celebrations were held in those places. India’s top chess player Vishwanathan Anand (and someone who deserves Bharat Ratna) accompanied the torch.

The grand opening ceremony in Chenna was graced by the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, along with Vishy Anand and many other top players and dignitaries.

The arrangements for the events have been impeccable (that too in a short time of 4-5 months, after India was confirmed as host). The opening ceremony had a special performance in which humans enacted a game of chess on a giant chess board.

The act was a clever marketing tactic because it showed Black Queen (a female warrior) defeating the White Queen (British?). There is a new upcoming movie – Ponniyin Selvan – by famous movie director Mani Rathnam on a similar topic which is due next month. The music is composed by A R Rahman, who also created promotional song for the Chess Olympiad. So the reference of this human game to that movie was obvious. Of course, not many would think so…but I definitely felt so.

Check it and decide yourself 👇

Teaser of Mani Rathnam’s movie – Ponniyin Selvan

I am really excited about this event and following the streaming on various Youtube channels.

In 2020 Team India were the joint winner of 43rd Olympiad, however the event was played online due to pandemic. Let’s see how they perform this year.

P.S. : The amazing performance at opening ceremony of 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai was actually a beautiful trap in Ruy Lopez, Alapin gambit.

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