'Mecca of Chess' Chennai To Host 2022 FIDE Chess Olympiad
Team India during the 2018 Batumi Olympiad. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

'Mecca of Chess' Chennai To Host 2022 FIDE Chess Olympiad

| 44 | Chess Event Coverage

The 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad will be held this summer in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. This news was announced at a press conference in Chennai on Wednesday, after the FIDE Council had approved the city's bid the night before. Originally, the event was to be held in Moscow but the war in Ukraine made that impossible.

The specific dates will be announced within a few days, but the Olympiad will take place in July and August, "not very far off from the dates originally planned," according to FIDE. The original dates were 26 July-August 8, 2022.

The venue will be the Four Points by Sheraton Mahabalipuram Resort & Convention Center, 60 kilometers south of central Chennai. It is located in Mamallapuram, one of the famous tourist sites in India and a UNESCO World Heritage Site of seventh- and eighth-century Hindu monuments.

The Descent of the Ganges, at Mahabalipuram
The Descent of the Ganges at Mahabalipuram, one of the largest rock reliefs in Asia featuring several Hindu scriptures. Photo: Wikipedia.

It will be the first time that an Olympiad will be held in India. Bharat Singh Chauhan, the secretary of the All Indian Chess Federation and the tournament director, called it a "historic press conference" and a "big moment for all of us." He noted how fast everything happened, from the moment FIDE decided to cancel Moscow until Chennai was confirmed.

"It was very quick. We met the chief minister, M. K. Stalin, and within five minutes he agreed."

The official approval letter was sent only a few hours later, and on the very same day, 1,200 rooms were booked in hotels in Mamallapuram.

"Now we have booked nearly 3,000 rooms, so things are moving very quickly," said Bharat Singh.

Dr. Sanjay Kapoor, the president of the AICF and the president of the organizing committee, called Chennai "the Mecca of chess in India" and said it was a "matter of pride" for Chennai and Tamil Nadu to have the Olympiad. 

Located in the Bay of Bengal in the southeastern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Chennai has the legendary 15th world champion, Viswanathan Anand, among its seven million inhabitants, as well as the talented rising star GM Praggnanandhaa R.

The chess tradition of Chennai goes even further back, as the first Indian player to ever achieve the international master title, Manuel Aaron, also grew up in the city. It will be the first time that an Olympiad is held in India and the biggest chess event Chennai has ever hosted, after the 2013 world championship between Anand and GM Magnus Carlsen.

Carlsen Anand 2013
Carlsen became world champion by beating Anand in 2013 in Chennai. Photo: Peter Doggers/

The last over-the-board Olympiad, the 43rd edition, was held in 2018 in Batumi, Georgia. The 2020 Olympiad was originally awarded to Minsk, but the city withdrew its candidacy following the political unrest in Belarus. 

Online Olympiads were held in 2020 and 2021 during the Covid pandemic, while the new over-the-board Olympiad was postponed and awarded to Moscow. The war in Ukraine forced FIDE to move the event another time.

The Indian organizers have set themselves the major task of pulling off a historic feat: preparing an Olympiad in just four months.

Bharat Singh: "The experience with Delhi Chess Open, the largest event of its kind in the world, will be a big help, as we have already dealt with large numbers. But Olympiad is a big game. I am sure we will make it the best."

The official address from the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, M.K. Stalin.

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