Schoolchildren from across the city came to watch the championship at the venue and also participate in the various events that were organised
It was not just the recently-concluded world chess championship the city warmed up to. The various events organised to celebrate the Viswanathan Anand-Magnus Carlsen match too proved successful.
“Some of them even exceeded our expectations,” says V. Hariharan, organising secretary of the world championship.
“Right from the time the city was awarded the world title match, we were determined to make the most of it. We thought this was the best opportunity to make more people in and around Chennai, and the rest of the State, aware of chess,” he says.
There were several events. There was Chennai Grandmaster International Open Chess tournament that attracted many strong Grandmasters from all over the country and abroad.
Since it was open only to players with a reasonable standard, it was attractive to stronger players and that increased the norm chances (you require norms to get Grandmaster and International Master titles).
“As many as 11 norms were made in the tournament,” says Mr. Hariharan. The tournament was won, in stunning fashion, by Aravindh Chithambaram, a 14-year-old who recently moved to the city from Madurai for the sake of chess.
He began as the 53rd seed and his victory is one of the finest achievements by an Indian in international chess, of late.
Before the Chennai Open, there was the Woman Grandmaster Open International tournament — a FIDE-rated tournament for players rated below 2100 and the first of its kind in the country — that attracted about 450 players, the national under-9 championship, as well as a State-level tournament in which there were players from all the districts.
“Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was very particular that chess should travel outside the city and reach the entire State,” says Mr. Hariharan. “That was why the State tournament was conducted and we achieved our goal, as we had prize-winners from districts such as Cuddalore and Tirupur.”
The chess puzzle contest held at the world championship venue, Hyatt Regency, too proved pretty popular. While most of the winners were from the city, the last contest was won by a Polish player, Jacek Stopa.
“It was also encouraging to see many schoolchildren from different parts of the city coming to watch the world championship at the venue,” says Mr. Hariharan.
“Chess is definitely going to be bigger now. Some of my friends, who have had no interest in chess previously had begun to ask me about the result. That is a good sign,” he says.