The 44th Chess Olympiad (Tamil: நாற்பத்தி நான்காவது FIDE சதுரங்க ஒலிம்பியாட், Nāṟpatti nāṉkāvatu FIDE caturaṅka olimpiyāṭ; also known as the Chennai Chess Olympiad), organised by the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) and consisted of open and women’s tournaments, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess, was held in Chennai, India from 28 July to 9 August 2022.
The event was initially supposed to take place in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, along with the Chess World Cup 2019, but was later moved to Moscow and scheduled for the period from 5 to 17 August 2020.However, it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then relocated to Chennai following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.This was the first Chess Olympiad to take place in India.
The event was hosted and managed in India by the AICF (All India Chess Federation).The current AICF President, Sanjay Kapoor was the President of the Organising Committee for the 44th Chess Olympiad, and AICF Secretary, Bharat Singh Chauhan was the Tournament Director.
The total number of participants was 1,737, with 937 in the Open and 800 in the Women’s event. The number of registered teams was 188 from 186 nations in the Open section and 162 from 160 nations in the Women’s section.Both sections set team participation records. The main venue of the Chess Olympiad was the convention centre at the Four Points by Sheraton, while the opening and closing ceremonies were held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The Chief Arbiter of the event was France’s International Arbiter Laurent Freyd.
Uzbekistan won the gold medal in the Open event, which was their first overall medal in the Chess Olympiads, while Ukraine claimed their second gold in the Women’s event (having previously won in 2006). English player David Howell had the highest performance for an individual player in the Open event with a performance rating of 2898 (he scored 7½ out of a possible 8 points).Polish player Oliwia Kiołbasa had the highest individual performance in the Women’s event with a performance rating of 2565 (she scored 9½ of a possible 11 points).
The 93rd FIDE Congress also took place during the Olympiad, at which Arkady Dvorkovich was re-elected as FIDE President and Viswanathan Anand was elected as FIDE Deputy President.
Bidding for the 44th Chess Olympiad and the simultaneous FIDE Congress opened in December 2015; bids could be made in connection with those for the Chess World Cup 2019. Each city bid had to be submitted to FIDE by 31 March 2016, including details of the organising committee, finances, provision of amenities and stipends. Only one bid was submitted, from Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia), although the national federations of Argentina and Slovakia had previously expressed interest in bidding.The bid was approved at the 87th FIDE Congress in September 2016
In November 2019, in the opening ceremony of the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich announced that the Chess Olympiad would be relocated from Khanty-Mansiysk to Moscow. The president of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Filatov had stated earlier the same day that the two cities would likely co-host the event. Khanty-Mansiysk was to host the opening ceremony and the inaugural Chess Paralympics, for people with disabilities in teams representing blind, deaf and physically disabled players.
In February 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, FIDE decided to move the Chess Olympiad, FIDE Congress and Chess Paralympics away from Russia.Shortly after this announcement, the All India Chess Federation expressed interest in hosting the events, in either Delhi, Gujarat or Tamil Nadu. Politicians in Tamil Nadu agreed to host the Chess Olympiad and provided around ₹75 crore (€9.2 million).On 15 March 2022, FIDE announced that Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, would be the new host of the event.
The total budget for the Chess Olympiad was ₹92 crore (€11 million).The coordinating committee was headed by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. K. Stalin, and included A. Raja, Udhayanidhi Stalin, three representatives of the All India Chess Federation, the President of the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association and other representatives of the local authorities
The venue was the convention centre at the Four Points by Sheraton in Mahabalipuram near Chennai. This consisted of an existing banquet hall (Hall 1) and a newly constructed hall (Hall 2), which cost ₹5 crore (€610,000). Hall 1 had a usable area of 22,500 square feet (2,090 m2), while Hall 2 was double the size at 45,000 square feet (4,200 m2). Hall 1 hosted games played on the top 28 boards in the open section and the top board in the women’s section, with other games played in Hall 2. Exhibition space was also provided.
The opening and closing ceremonies were held at the Nehru Indoor Stadium, part of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium complex. This was built in 1995 at a cost of ₹20 crore (then about €3.25 million) and has a capacity of 8,000 spectators.
Around 125 buses, 100 SUVs and six luxury cars were used to transport players and dignitaries during the event. The road between Chennai International Airport and Mahabalipuram was widened and reconstructed to improve traffic flow, with one lane of the highway reserved for Olympiad traffic during the event.
A torch relay was held prior to the event, the first for a Chess Olympiad. It started on 19 July at the Indira Gandhi Arena in New Delhi, where FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich handed the torch to the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, who passed it to former World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand. The torch was then taken to 75 cities in 40 days, finishing in Chennai where it passed through Shore Temple. Related events involved the Indian sport mallakhamba. The torch arrived at the venue in Mahabalipuram on the morning of 27 July
The Tamil Nadu Police deployed 4,000 police officers to provide security during the Olympiad, on special duty from 25 July to 10 August. The Greater Chennai Police deployed an additional 22,000 police officers during prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the city on 28 July. Flying of drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles was banned in the city limits in the period 28–29 July.
The event was contested by a total of 188 teams, representing 186 national federations, both records for a Chess Olympiad. India, as host country, was permitted to field three teams. The women’s tournament featured 162 teams, also a record, representing 160 federations.Russia and Belarus were banned from taking part by FIDE as a result of the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine. China declined to send a team. Pakistan boycotted the event and a team from Rwanda were prevented from attending by their own government. A team representing the Netherlands Antilles was permitted to compete, despite having dissolved itself in 2010, because the Curaçao Chess Federation remains officially registered as representing the country.
Unbeatable Ukraine wins Gold at 44th Chess Olympiad 2022 Women.
Chief Minister M.K. Stalin presented the medals to the winners in the open category – Gold for Ukraine – while FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich handed over the open section winner’s trophy to GM Ivan Sokolov, outstanding coach and captain of the young Uzbekistan squad.
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