Raipur : Presence of Chess Olympiad Torch Relay in Chhattisgarh will act as inspiration for the budding players here; Chess will be promoted in schools: Mr. Bhupesh Baghel

New Delhi : The first ever torch relay for the 44th Chess Olympiad was given a rousing welcome upon its arrival at Raipur city in Chhattisgarh on Saturday. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Sports and Youth Welfare Minister Umesh Patel, several sports associations, sportspersons, school children and public representatives welcomed the torch. Chess Grandmaster and Arjuna Awardee Mr. Praveen Thipsay carried the torch and formally handed it over to Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel at a function held at Pt. Deendayal Auditorium here. They also played a game of Chess on the stage. Mr. Baghel handed over this torch to the state’s chess player, Woman FIDE Master, Ms. Kiran Agarwal. Ms. Agarwal along with State Chess Association General Secretary Mr. Vinod Rathi will carry this torch to Hyderabad. The 44th Chess Olympiad is being organized in India for the first time as a part of 75th Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations. This torch relay will pass through 75 cities of the country with Raipur being the 61st stop. MLA and Chhattisgarh Housing Board President Mr. Kuldeep Juneja, Mayor Mr. Aijaz Dhebar and Chhattisgarh Olympic Association General Secretary Mr. Gurcharan Singh Hora also attended the welcome event.

Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said “It is a matter of great pride that for the very first time, International Chess Federation (FIDE) has instituted Chess Olympiad torch relay on the lines of Olympic-style tradition. In future Chess Olympiad may be organized in any country; but the torch relay will begin from India. It is a proud moment for the country to host Chess Olympiad. I especially congratulate the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Mr. Stalin, for providing a guarantee of Rs.75 crore and world-class infrastructure on behalf of his state to host this proud event. Over 2000 players from 188 countries will participate in the Chess Olympiad to be held in Tamil Nadu’s Mahabalipuram.”

He added that the presence of Chess Olympiad torch relay in the state today would act as a great inspiration for our budding chess talents. Referring to Rajnandgaon chess player Ms. Kiran Agarwal, he said that she participated in Olympiad twice between 1986 and 1990. This pride needs to be repeated again. Our Chhattisgarh is also participating in the Olympiad held in Tamil Nadu with Mr. Alankar Bhivgade of Bhilai as one of the judges. Ms. Kiran Agarwal, Mr. Vinod Rathi and Mr. M.K. Chandrashekhar are part of the organizing committee. A total of six players selected from different schools of the state will also participate in the Olympiad.

Speaking about how Chess is being promoted in Chhattisgarh, Mr. Baghel said that on the initiative of All India Chess Federation, work has been started to promote chess in 22 schools of the state. Balod has become the first district in the country to start the ‘Chess in School’ pilot project. Arrangements to play chess will be made in all schools. Chess training has also been started in Aastha School of Dantewada district. He boosted the morale of chess players and hoped that seeing the players participating in this event, other parents would also encourage their children to take interest in chess and other sports.

Sports and Youth Welfare Minister Mr. Umesh Patel said in his address that the torch of the biggest sporting event in the country has reached the soil of Chhattisgarh today, which we welcome wholeheartedly. He informed that the Chess Olympiad is being organized in Mahabalipuram from July 28 to August 10. India, the birthplace of this game, has got the responsibility of hosting this event for the first time. The Chess Olympiad torch relay is passing through 75 cities of the country, reaching its 61st stop i.e. Raipur today. He expressed his gratitude to all the sports federations, sportspersons, public representatives and school children who came to welcome the torch here. Chhattisgarh State Chess Association President Mr. Raghavendra Singhania also addressed the programme. Sports and Youth Welfare Secretary Mr. Neelam Namdev Ekka and Director Mrs. Shweta Srivastava Sinha along with senior departmental officials were also present in the programme.

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