Chennai: Tamil Nadu’s historical connection to the game of Chess was enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister M K Stalin at the inaugural of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad that saw a galaxy of international Chess players and leading lights of cinema, culture and industry assembled at the Nehru Indoor Stadium on Thursday evening.
Declaring open the games, Modi said that it was only fitting that Tamil Nadu was hosting the prestigious sporting event as it was a State with several temples. Indian culture had a divine aspect to it and as legend had it even a God had played Chess with a princess, he said.
By bringing the Olympiad to India, it was being brought to the land of the game’s origin and it was more significant that it was happening in the year the country was celebrating its 75th year of independence from British rule.
This year’s games would be a memorable one as it had drawn the maximum number of players to the Olympiad, particularly women, the Prime Minister said.
This was the season for many Indian sportspersons to bring home more medals from international events, including the Paralympics and Deaflympics, like never before in view of the encouragement given to sports.
The sporting culture in the country had become stronger, the energy of the youth was at its peak and they were having an enabling environment, which was helping sportspersons to emerge from small towns and villages and make a mark at the world level.
He said the Common Wealth Games were also starting at the same time of the Chess Olympiad and the nation would see more winners and future winners in sports as the youth were getting more infrastructural facilities now.
Modi appreciated the State government for making such extraordinary arrangements for the conduct of the international event in such a short period and also said that it was being conducted at an iconic location.
Stalin, in his speech, mentioned Keeladi, the archeological site in the State and said that evidence had been obtained that ancient Tamil people played the game of Chess and some artefacts unearthed there were suspected to be Chess pieces.
He said the game that was once considered to be that of the kings and queens had become so popular among the common people that 36 per cent of the Grand Masters in India were from Tamil Nadu.
Stating that it was a big honour for the State to host the event, which had gained global recognition for Tamil Nadu, he urged the Prime Minister to give more such opportunities to the State to showcase its capabilities.
Seeing the Olympiad as an event that would promote not just sports but also tourism and industrial development in the State, Stalin said that though an international sporting meet of that magnitude would normally take a minimum of 18 months to make all necessary arrangements, the State had managed to pull it up in record four months.
He also mentioned that the matches for the game of Sadurangam (Chess in Tamil) would be held at Mamallapuram, which is very close to Sadurangapatinam, which was rechristened as Sadras like Madrasapatinam becoming Madras....