The first ever Chess Olympiad Torch Relay reached Maharashtra recently and travelled through prominent locations of Nagpur and Pune. As per reports, the Torch reached Mumbai on Saturday, July 2, 2022, at 6:30 PM from where it departed from Maharashtra to Goa on Sunday, July 3, 2022.
As India is celebrating its 75th year of independence, the Chess Olympiad torch is being taken to 75 cities of the country before reaching Chennai, the host city of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad, Authorities have confirmed that the Chess Olympiad will be held from July 28 to August 10, 2022.
The Torch relay first reached Nagpur’s famous Zero Mile, the geographical centre-point of India, from Daman at 6 AM, where Grand Masters Raunak Sadhwani, Divya Deshmukh and Sankalp Gupta received the Torch. NCC Cadets of the 20th Maharashtra Batallion, Nehru Yuva Kendra and District Sports officials and other sports enthusiasts gave a grand welcome to the Chess Olympiad Torch Relay.
Later, the Grand Masters took the Torch forward in an open jeep to various locations. The rally passed through the main square of Nagpur city and was later taken to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, Nagpur, at around 8 AM for its onward journey. Grand Masters Isha Karwade and Abhijit Kunte, Representatives of Maharashtra Chess Association, Officials of Department of Sports received the Torch at the Pune Airport. The Torch was carried by the Grand Masters to Amanora Township in Hadapsar at around 12 noon where it was greeted with a grand reception, post which the flame was taken on a road journey to prominent locations in the city, including the historically significant Shaniwarwada, before commencing its road journey towards Mumbai.
The Torch was expected to reach Mumbai at 6:30 PM where it was received by Grandmaster Pravin Thipsay. Grandmasters Abhijit Kunte and Soumya Swaminathan were also present and a grand reception for the Torch was organised at Wankhede Club at around 7 PM. As it reached Mumbai, the Chess Olympiad Torch was taken to prominent locations in the city.
The final leg of the Torch Relay in Maharashtra had a grand reception at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai in the evening. Addressing the event, Grand Master Abhijit Kunte expressed his happiness on India being the first country where the torch relay has begun its journey. “For the first time ever, a torch relay has been introduced in Chess Olympiad; we are very happy that the torch relay has begun from India,” he proudly said. He also mentioned that the Government’s initiative is creating a chess culture in the country and is also encouraging children to play chess. “There are many chess events being organized in the country,” he added.
Working President, Maharashtra Chess Association, Siddharth Mayur said that from now on, the Chess Olympiad Torch will begin its journey from India whenever the Chess Olympiad is to be held anywhere around the world.
The Chess Olympiad Torch was given a traditional welcome by the state level chess players. Central Bureau of Communication, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting organised cultural performance highlighting how chess originated from India and the 75 years of India’s Independence. Artistes also performed Nukkad Natak on achievements of India with a focus on the infrastructural development, women empowerment and initiatives like Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
As part of the celebration, 30 budding Chess players got an opportunity to play against International Masters. India has been the first-ever country to start the Chess Olympiad Torch Relay as per the Olympic tradition. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the historic torch relay at Indira Gandhi Stadium, New Delhi on June 19, 2022, and handed it over to Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand.