For the first time in the history of Indian sports, a sponsor was ready to put in Rs 20 crore for a chess event. The Tamil Nadu government pledged that amount and also promised to provide other facilities.
But, in the end, that was not enough to get Chennai the right to host the World Chess Championship final match between its favourite son, Viswanathan Anand, and Israeli challenger Boris Gelfand in May 2012. At the current exchange rate, Chennai's bid works out to around $4 million. However, FIDE, the sport's world governing body, on Tuesday announced that it had accepted the bid by the Russian Chess Federation to host the event at Skolkovo, near Moscow. The Russians have pledged a total prize fund of $2.55 million (R 11.52 crore approx).
Though the Indian bid would also work out to the same prize fund after deducting FIDE's fee and other expenses, one reason why the Russians got the nod was that the Israeli Grandmaster wanted to avoid taking on Anand in India.
"It could be a reason that Gelfand wanted to play the match on neutral territory and that's why FIDE favoured the Russian bid," said Bharat Singh, honorary secretary, All India Chess Federation (AICF). The AICF had high hopes of hosting the biggest chess event in the country after FIDE president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, had met Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and expressed support for the Indian bid.
"It's a big shock for us. For the first time a sponsor was ready to put in R 20 crore but we still failed to get the match. It would have been a great opportunity to promote chess in the country," said Bharat Singh.