Fans make it a Chess Olympiad to remember


If the Chess Olympiad became a resounding success, the fans of Chennai are also a reason for that

If the Chess Olympiad became a resounding success, the fans of Chennai are also a reason for that

When Sai Chockalingam, a class 8 student at SBOA School in Chennai’s Anna Nagar, wanted to watch the Chess Olympiad, his father, who is employed with a private company, readily spent ₹3,300 on buying the tickets. They waited patiently in the queue to get into the hall, where the top players were battling it out on the final day, at Four Points by Sheraton in Mamallapuram on Tuesday afternoon.

Spending a substantial amount on watching a chess game – which one can follow live easily online – may surprise most people. However, the game changer is probably the fact that the event is taking place near Chennai. The southern metropolis is the home of Indian chess in many ways – not just home to one of the game’s greatest, Viswanathan Anand, the five-time World champion.

If the Olympiad became a resounding success, the chess fans of Chennai are also a reason for that. You could see thousands of people coming to the venue everyday to have a glimpse of their favourite stars, to get their autographs, or take selfies with them. “R. Praggnanandhaa is my favourite player,” says Sai.

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Abhijit Kesavankutty, city head at a pro-tech company, sounded as enthusiastic at sighting top stars in chess. “It was great watching Koneru Humpy live. I had seen her playing as a little girl,” he says.

Shweta Jain, a homemaker, considers herself lucky that she could have a glimpse of Anand at a city hotel where her family was staying. She had flown in from Delhi along with her chess-playing daughter Tiana. “We all wanted to watch the Olympiad live,” she says.

The players too are happy that so many fans came to watch them. “It is great to see so much excitement from the fans,” says the Chennai-based B. Adhiban, a member of the bronze-medal-winning India 2 team.

Riya Joseph, a research scholar in Chemistry, didn’t want to miss the Olympiad either. “I think this has been a great event, well-conducted and marketed,” she says.

There are not many who will disagree with her.

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