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Chess, Aamir Khan's new interest?

The Chess Players Association of India is in talks with the actor to become the brand ambassador of chess and help raise its profile in India.
None | By Indo-Asian News Service, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2007 03:21 PM IST

Bollywood star Aamir Khan could soon become a brand ambassador of chess in India to help the low profile game to gain popularity in the country of its origin.

Khan, who follows and plays chess well, would particularly be associated with the Chess Players Association of India (CPAI) and its activities, a CPAI member said.

"We are in talks with Aamir for some time and he has shown his keenness to become the brand ambassador of chess and help raise its profile in India," the member told IANS.

"If a formal agreement has not been concluded with Aamir yet, it is because we players are extremely busy playing tournaments as well as managing the CPAI affairs," the source said on condition of anonymity.

Chess, which traces its origin in India centuries ago, remains a low profile sport in the country while cricket has overshadowed all other sports. Cricket has become more popular than even the national game hockey, in which India won eight Olympic gold medals.

Like hockey, chess also has virtually no takers among sponsors, who seem to favour no other sport other than cricket.

CPAI hopes the clean and popular image of the 41-year-old Khan, who has also taken social causes like supporting the protestors of Narmada Dam, will not only boost the profile of the game but will help bring in some money.

"Once Aamir gets involved with CPAI, we plan to involve him in promotion of the game and raise money through events so that needy players can be helped," the source said.

CPAI was launched in 2004 to promote the interests of players. Grandmaster (GM) Dibyundu Barua was chosen the first president and GM P. Harikrishna the secretary.

CPAI, registered as a society in Kolkata, was formed to raise issues Indian players have been confronting for a long time. One of this is the 10 percent cut in prize money the previous regime of the All India Chess Federation (AICF) was charging from players.

"We have identified many issues where we need to voice our concern and where we can do better for the benefit of chess and chess players," the source said.

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