New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched the historic torch relay for the 44th Chess Olympiad at Indira Gandhi Stadium, here.
FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich handed over the torch to the Prime Minister, who in turn handed it over to Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand. This torch will be taken to 75 cities in a span of 40 days before the final culmination at Mahabalipuram near Chennai.
At every location, chess grandmasters of the state will receive the torch.
Prime Minister Modi also made the Khelo Chess Ceremonial move followed by Koneru Humpy making a move. Union Ministers Anurag Singh Thakur and Nisith Pramanik, Chess players and enthusiasts, ambassadors, chess officials were among those present on the occasion.
Dvorkovich thanked the Government of India for taking the initiative in the start of the new tradition of torch relay which will popularise and galvanise the game all over the world.
“FIDE is grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his presence and honouring us,” he said and recalled the Prime Minister’s speech on the occasion of most players playing chess in one place in 2010 on the significance of the game of Chess in building new capabilities and role of combination of education and sports in leading to success.
The FIDE president hoped that Chess would become part of all schools across India and all over the world.
“India today is the fastest growing Chess country today and you have all grounds to be proud of that. We are grateful for your leadership for all the fantastic work that you are doing in the interest of Chess,” he said.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister said, “Today the first torch relay for Chess Olympiad games is starting from India. For the first time, this year, India is also going to host Chess Olympiad games. We are proud that a sport, starting from its birthplace and leaving its mark all over the world, has become a passion for many countries.”
“Centuries ago, the torch of this sport went to the whole world in the form of Chaturanga from India. Today the first Olympiad torch of chess is also coming out of India. Today, when India is celebrating its 75th year of independence, Amrit Mahotsav, this Chess Olympiad torch will also go to 75 cities of the country,” PM Modi said.
“FIDE has decided that the torch relay for each Chess Olympiad game will start from India itself. This honour is not only the honour of India, but also the honour of this glorious heritage of chess. I congratulate FIDE and all its members for this,” he said.
The Prime Minister dwelled on the India’s heritage in Chess. He said, “Our ancestors invented games like Chaturanga or Chess for analytical and problem solving brains. Chess, via India, reached many countries of the world and became very popular. Today, chess is being used in schools as an education tool for young people, for children.”
He noted that in recent years, India is consistently improving its performance in Chess. This year, India’s contingent in the Chess Olympiad is the biggest so far.
Modi expressed the hope that India will create a new record of medals this year. He talked about many lessons that Chess gives us in our lives.
Underlining the need for right support for everyone irrespective of their place in life, the PM Modi said, “Just like every piece of chess has its own unique strength and a unique ability. If you make the right move with a piece and use its power properly, then it becomes the most powerful. This specialty of Chessboard gives us the big message of life. If given the right support and the right environment, no goal is impossible even for the weakest.”
Highlighting another lesson from Chess, he said, “Another great feature of the game of chess is farsightedness. Chess tells us that real success comes from far-sighted rather than short-term success.”
The Prime Minister pointed out that this lesson informs India’s sports policy and schemes like Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS) which have started yielding results.
Referring to India’s recent successes in Tokyo Olympics, Paralympics, Thomas Cup and boxing the Prime Minister said, “There is no dearth of talent in our country. There is no dearth of courage, dedication and strength among the youth of the country. Earlier these youths of ours had to wait for the right platform. Today, under the ‘Khelo India’ campaign, the country is searching and shaping these talents.”
Sports talent is emerging from far flung areas of the country under Khelo India and modern sporting infrastructure is being created in different towns and districts of the country.
He also pointed out that sports has been treated as other academic subjects under New Education Policy. He said that many new dimensions of sports like physio, sports science are coming to the fore and many sports universities are being opened in the country.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the pressure of expectations on the player and advised them to give their hundred percent with zero percent tension or pressure.
He said that the country sees your hardwork and dedication. As much victory is part of the game, preparing to win again is also part of the game.
Referring to the cost of one wrong move in Chess the Prime Minister said if the game can go by one mistake, one can retrieve the situation by the use of brain power, therefore staying calm is of utmost importance.
He suggested that Yoga and Meditation can help in this a great deal. He appealed for making Yoga part of daily life and for enthusiastic participation in upcoming International Yoga Day.
This year, for the very first time, the International Chess Body, FIDE, has instituted the Chess Olympiad Torch that is part of Olympic tradition, but was never done in the Chess Olympiad. India will be the first-ever country to have the Chess Olympiad Torch Relay. Notably, taking the Indian roots of Chess to a greater height, this tradition of Torch Relay for the Chess Olympiad will henceforth always begin in India and travel across all continents before reaching the host country.
The 44th Chess Olympiad will be held in Chennai from July 28 to August 10. The competition, which has been organised since 1927, is being hosted in India for the first time and in Asia after 30 years. With 189 countries participating, this will be the largest participation in any Chess Olympiad.