Chess Olympiad diary: From pathbreakers to party woes, the lowdown on the action from Mamallapuram


For a non-Olympic sport like chess, the Olympiad is the most sought-after event among its followers. In keeping with its ever-elevating status — the number of participating nations has reached a record 187 — the Opening Ceremony of the 44th edition of the Chess Olympiad in Chennai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was truly path-breaking.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin and several celebrities, including actor Rajnikanth were present during the event which was conceptualized by film director Vignesh Shivan. A few segments of the evening were simply mind-blowing and the show brought to the fore the rich Tamil culture and heritage, with choreography by Shaimak Davar and the voice of actor Kamal Haasan. Also, the 3-D mapping was truly world-class.

Posts on social media have indicated that the impact of the over-the-top extravaganza was felt beyond the chess world. Never before in the previous 43 editions of the Olympiad, had the Opening Ceremony been witnessed this way. Appreciation poured in not only from those in the stands but also who watched it in digital space.

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Special themes

With more than 700 approved items on the menus of hotels hosting chess players, officials and delegates, each property is trying to highlight the theme of the checkered board, king, queen and knights. At Four Points by Sheraton, where the event is taking place, the chefs have left no stone unturned to play up the chess connection. More often than not, the desserts on offer sport the ‘chess look’…

Randa Seder | Photo Credit: AFP

Randa Seder — the most sought-after…

Meet Randa Seder, the eight-year-old girl from Palestine. Be it a chess-loving spectator, a fellow-participant or the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Randa’s magic has spared none. Runner-up in her National championship, Randa making it to the Olympiad is indeed very special. Although several countries have players younger than Randa, none have made it to their National team for this premier competition. Palestine is making its debut in the women’s Olympiad and Randa is taken care of by her senior teammates. With the kind of attention Randa continues to get in the chess world, her teammates feel that this could help the sport grow in the war-torn Palestine.

Moral policing

Arguably, chess is among the very few sporting disciplines which can be termed as gender-neutral. Female players may compete with men in the ‘Open’, besides having a separate women’s section. But when it comes to the Bermuda Party — the most awaited fun event during the Olympiads, the guidelines for dress code for women raised many eyebrows

It reads…

3.d. Beach-wear ties, profanity and nude or semi-nude pictures printed on shirts, torn pants or jeans, holes, noticeable unclean clothing, sun glasses, sport caps. Revealing attire, clothes such as denim shorts, short-shorts, cut-off shorts, gym shorts, crop tops, tank tops and clothes made of see-through materials or clothes that expose areas of the body usually covered in the location where the event is taking place.

As though to make amends, the organizers made it a ticketed event for the “Kings” and FREE for the “Queens.”

Any justification?

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