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Explained | Chess Olympiad: Event’s Origins, Rules & India’s Rise as Top Seed and Host


As India makes an impressive showing at this year’s Chess Olympiad, take a look at its journey over the years.

As India makes an impressive showing at this year’s Chess Olympiad, take a look at its journey over the years.

The story so far: In the 44th Chess Olympiad, the India 1 Women’s team lost to Poland but continued to shine on the ninth day. In the open category, India B has overtaken India—the two are currently ranked 2 and 4 respectively. The top seeded women’s team has now dropped to second place.

After Round 9, Uzbekistan lead the score table with 16 points followed by India 2 (15), Armenia (15), India (14) and Netherlands (also 14). Official Standings of FIDE.

44th edition of FIDE Chess Olympiad 2022 is currently being hosted by India for the first time. Starting on July 29, the event is being held at four points by the Sheraton Mamallapuram Resort and Convention Center in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and will end on August 10. With Russia and China not participating in the event, India with its large contingent of thirty players is aiming to make it to the event.

History of the Chess Olympiad

In 1924, the International Chess Federation was founded in Paris (FIDE) organizes the biennial Chess Olympiad with the host nation and several other sponsors. The first official event was held in London in 1927 by the United Kingdom, with Hungary taking the gold medal, followed by Denmark and England.

Since then, the event was mainly hosted by European countries until 1986 when the United Arab Emirates hosted the 27th edition in Dubai. Apart from Eurasian countries such as Turkey/Turkiye (2000), Azerbaijan (2016) and Russia (1956, 1994, 1998, 2010), the Philippines (1992) and China (2021 – virtual) are the only other Asian countries to host the event. While Russia was supposed to host the 2022 edition, FIDE shifted the event to Chennai after Moscow invaded its neighbor Ukraine.

Chess players from different countries participate in the first day of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad at Mamallapuram near Chennai on July 29, 2022

Chess players from different countries participating on the first day of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad at Mamallapuram near Chennai on July 29, 2022 | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

The Olympiad features an 11-round Swiss format in which teams from two countries (four players and one reserve) compete against each other on four respective boards. With ninety minutes per game, players are allowed in after thirty minutes moving to 40. Each team gets one game point for a win, 0.5 game points for a draw and zero points for a loss. At the end of the game, the team with the most game points is awarded two match points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss. The standings of the playing nations are calculated according to match points and the top place is crowned the champion.

Comeback: Viswanathan Anand, right, before recovering and winning,

Comeback: Viswanathan Anand, rightly, admitted that “R. Pragnananda was outplayed in the opening” before recovering and winning. | Photo credit: Lennart Ootes

India’s performance in Chess Olympiads

The modern game of chess is derived from the ancient Indian game of war.ChaturangaPlayed in ‘7 Th century Just like the current game, different pieces in ‘Chaturanga’ have different powers and success depends on the king. The game evolved into ‘Shatranj’ popular in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and South-Central Asia from 600 AD onwards.

Screen shot from Chaturagam - A Dance Depiction released by the Pudukottai District Administration authorities for the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad.

Screen shot from Chaturagam – A Dance Depiction released by the Pudukottai District Administration authorities for the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad. | Photo credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

After independence from the British Raj, India first participated in the FIDE Chess Olympiad in Moscow in 1956, finishing 27th. Since then, India has upped its game, winning bronze in 2014, gold in 2020 and bronze in 2021. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was de facto held in 2020 and 2021.

in 2020, India and Russia were joint champions as the result of both games in the second finals match was affected by a net outage on the Cloudflare servers. Both Nihal Sarin and Divya Deshmukh complained to FIDE about the connectivity issues. In 2021, India lost to the US – which won the event – to settle for the bronze medal. Currently, India has 74 Grandmasters – the highest title awarded to a player by FIDE – most of whom are under 20 years of age – and 125 International Masters.

GM Harika Dronavalli of India A team playing on Day 5 of the 44th Chess Olympiad at Mamallapuram on August 2, 2022.

GM Harika Dronavalli from India A team playing on Day 5 of the 44th Chess Olympiad at Mamallapuram on August 2, 2022 | Photo Credit: VELANKANNI RAJ B

this year, India — hosting the event — is second only to the United States in the open category. Led by Srinath Narayanan, Open Team A consisted of Harikrishna Pentala, Vidith Santhosh Gujarati, Erigaisi Arjun, SL Narayanan and Sasikiran Krishnan. Open Team B consists of Nihal Sarin, Gukesh D, Adhiban B, Pragnananda R and Sadwani R. Women’s Team A – Top-seed – consists of Koneru Hampi, Harika Dronavalli, Vaishali R, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni. Team B consists of Vantika A, Soumya S, Mary Ann Gomes, Padmini Raut and Divya Deshmukh. Abhijit Kunte is the captain of India A team.

As the host team, India is allowed to field Three teams In each category. Open Team C consists of Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Karthikeyan Murali, SP Sethuraman, Abhijeet Gupta and Abhimanyu Puranik and Women’s Team C consists of Esha Karavade, M Varshini Sahithi, Pratyusha Bodda, PV Nandidha and Varsha Vasnawala. The teams were mentored by five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand, who opted not to play the event.

Indian Chess Grandmaster Pragnananda played on Day 2 of the 44th Chess Olympiad at Mamallapuram on Saturday.

Indian Chess Grandmaster Pragnananda played on Day 2 of the 44th Chess Olympiad at Mamallapuram on Saturday. | Photo credit: Ravindran R

India’s height to host

The host of the 2022 Chess Olympiad – Russia – was thrown into limbo by FIDE’s invasion of Ukraine in February, putting the event in jeopardy. When FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich began the search for a new host, All India Chess Federation (AICF) Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan Told him that India is there ‘Ready to host any chess event’. Within twenty-four hours, Mr. Chauhan confirmed that India would host 44 Th Chess Olympiad – Bringing the event to Asia after thirty years.

File photo of a digital chess board on the players' tables at the 44th Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram near Chennai

Digital chess board file photo on players’ tables at the 44th Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram near Chennai | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

Appointing 37 IAS officers and running Tamil Nadu Olympiad Rs. 92 crore and chose Mamallapuram, a coastal town of historical and archaeological value. Hall 2 with the highest number of boards was set up in just forty days. The Olympiad mascot ‘Thambi’ was soon unveiled and a few days before the event, music director AR Rahman released ‘Chadaranga Geetham’ featuring Chennai’s Napier Bridge, which resembles a chess board.

Ahead of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad to be held from July 28 at Mamallapuram near the city, Chennai's Napier Bridge is painted like a chessboard, ready for the game.

Ahead of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad to be held from July 28 at Mamallapuram near the city, Chennai’s Napier Bridge is painted like a chessboard, ready for the game. | Photo Credit: RAGHUNATHAN SR

Prime Minister inaugurated the programme Appreciated by Narendra Modi The DMK government was quick to organize the event and reaffirmed Tamil Nadu’s historic connection with chess by inviting Saturanga Vallabhanathar, an incarnation of Lord Shiva who is considered to be an expert in chess. Mr. Stalin also said that 36 per cent of India’s Grandmasters are from Tamil Nadu, which is why Chennai is called the ‘chess capital of India’.

At the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen holding the Chess Olympiad torch along with Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin and former grandmaster Viswanathan Anand.  And in the frame R.  Pragnananda, S.  Vijayalakshmi, D Gukesh - all Grandmasters - at the opening ceremony of the Chess Olympiad at Nehru Indoor Stadium, Chennai on July 28, 2022.

At the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen holding the Chess Olympiad torch along with Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin and former grandmaster Viswanathan Anand. And in the frame R. Pragnananda, S. Vijayalakshmi, D Gukesh at the opening ceremony of the Chess Olympiad at the Nehru Indoor Stadium, Chennai on July 28, 2022 – All Grand Masters | Photo credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam/ The Hindu

In all, 1400 players representing 187 countries will be competing on 700 boards at the Four Points at the Sheraton Mamallapuram Resort and Convention Center in Temple Town.



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