For the first time since the inception of the Chess Olympiad in 1924 by FIDE (International Chess Federation – referred to by its French acronym FIDE), India, – the birthplace of the beloved board game, is playing host to the grand event in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
With the momentous 44 th FIDE Chess Olympiad being hosted in India for the first time, the journey of this centuries old game has come full circle. India is currently hosting smart minds from across the world, giving them a gracious platform to pit their formidable talents against each other. As the battle of minds rages in Chennai, let’s delve into what makes chess and its champions tick!
Chess was born in India during the golden age of the Gupta Dynasty in the 6th century th century AD. Chaturanga, as it was then referred to, boarded the famous Silk Route from its homeland to reach Persia, where it was known as Chatrang. With the Islamic conquest of Persia in the Middle Ages, the popular game morphed into Shatranj and riding on its growing popularity, it eventually reached Europe and eventually came to be known as chess. The word checkmate itself is derived from the Persian phrase ‘shah mat’, meaning ‘the king is dead’!
Chess, in its current form, came into shape by the 19 th century and the hitherto esoteric game made its way to the general public. The explosion in popularity happened in the 20 th century with a number of chess tournaments organized worldwide, led by the first unofficial Chess Olympiad of 1924.
Not only is India home to one of the largest pools of chess grandmasters worldwide, but it also continues to produce chess prodigies. Beginning with the chess legend Viswananthan ‘Vishy’ Anand in 1988, today India boasts a whopping 74 chess grandmasters. Telangana’s 19-year-old Rahul Srivasthav is the latest to join this coveted club. Not only is India home to one of the largest pools of chess grandmasters worldwide, but it also continues to produce chess prodigies. Noteworthy among the group is Gukesh D, who became a chess grandmaster at the tender age of 12 years in 2019, narrowly missing the world’s youngest grandmaster tag.
Chennai, India’s Chess Capital
From Vishy Anand to R. Praggnanandhaa and Gukesh D., a third of India’s 74 chess grandmasters hail from Tamil Nadu. While the All-India Chess Federation has been doing a commendable job of drawing more and more young minds to the game and ensuring they succeed, what is it that makes Tamil Nadu a hotbed for chess talent in India? The answer is the perseverance of former players of the game itself as well as the carefully nurtured culture of a deep love and passion for the game.
Starting with the Tal Chess Club, founded by Manuel Aaron, India’s first International Chess Master in 1972 and named after his personal chess hero, Mikhail Tal; Tamil Nadu has seen generations of chess players opening academies or ‘gurukuls’ and holding tournaments to hone young chess skills.
Adding to the already robust chess infrastructure are the highly proactive Tamil Nadu State Chess Association and the Chennai District Chess Association, which have continued to organize tournaments on a regular basis as opposed to other states in the country.
Smartwater for Smart Minds
For the 2022 Chennai Chess Olympiad, FIDE has chosen Glaceau Smartwater to be the official and exclusive beverage partner. Made through vapor distillation, water is evaporated to remove impurities, condensed and then re-mineralised with electrolytes for a crisp, pure taste, making smartwater a premium hydrating beverage. This nourishing and revitalizing beverage is proud to partner with the first ever Chess Olympiad taking place in India, as Smartwater champions achievers who use their smarts to succeed on their own terms.
Chess is a game of the mind and peak mental acuity is a constant requirement for its players. With constant perspiration, the hydration level of the body is compromised and so is the cognitive ability of the mind. As the Olympiad takes place in the sweltering Chennai heat, Smartwater not only keeps the world’s ace chess players sufficiently hydrated but also rejuvenated and raring to go!
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