New Delhi, June 19 (IANS): 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.