Chess is not alien to the city, considering Chennai is the hometown of Viswanathan Anand. Over the next few days, city residents will get to know the game better.
The World Chess Championship was inaugurated on Thursday by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at Nehru stadium, where she also chose the colours for the players.
In a series of games, from Saturday to November 28, current World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen will play Anand, who will defend his World Championship title.
Chess aficionados have devised various ways to support the players even as the organisers do their best to spread awareness about the event.
Posters, banners and announcements about the World Chess Championship — hosted for the first time in the country — are everywhere — at bus stands, the beach, railway stations and online too.
At Hyatt Regency, the venue for the championship, staff members dressed as kings, queens, and other chess pieces entertained visitors.
“We have also trained at least 60 of the housekeeping and front head staff members in the basics of chess. This is to help them interact with our guests better,” said Pratiti Rajpal, marketing communications manager, Hyatt Regency.
Also, two large chess boards have been placed at Marina and Hyatt Regency, while huge chess pieces have been mounted at strategic locations, including the airport and a few railways stations.
Nearly 2,000 banners have been put up across the city and hundreds of leaflets with information on the championship are being distributed, said K. Gopalakrishnan, treasurer, Tamil Nadu State Chess Association.
“Initially we thought of hosting blitz chess — speed chess on the Marina but we wanted to make sure the players were safe, so we shifted the event indoors. Chess pieces, all made of Plaster of Paris, have been placed on the Marina to spread awareness about the game among people from all walks of life,” he said.
Chess federations have also been organising ‘chess in parks’ to promote the championship. “Our volunteers have been encouraging park visitors to play the game. This has worked in getting both the elderly and the young interested,” said an Association official.
The programme started in four parks and will soon be extended to other parks, said Mr. Gopalakrishnan.
In the online space, through #wish4Vishy, an initiative by NIIT, fans can express support for Viswanathan Anand on Facebook and Twitter.
Among the many tweets on the forum are, ‘You are and will be unchecked king of 64 houses’, ‘Good luck Champion. No. it’s not Sachin I’m wishing. But great V Anand’.
Federation officials said, this year, fans can also watch the game on Youtube or by download certain apps.