World Chess Championship: Delhi, Chennai submit competing bids - Hindustan Times
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World Chess Championship: Delhi, Chennai submit competing bids

By, Bengaluru
Jun 01, 2024 08:28 PM IST

All India Chess Federation and TN government are both in the fray to host the D Gukesh-Ding Liren match. Singapore is in the race too

The World Chess Championship is at least six months away but there’s already a mini-match unfolding in India over who gets to host it. The Tamil Nadu government and All India Chess Federation (AICF) have submitted separate bids to the world chess body, Fide, two days apart pitching Chennai and Delhi respectively as venues.

D Gukesh(HT_PRINT)
D Gukesh(HT_PRINT)

AICF originally planned to name ‘Yashobhoomi’ in Dwarka, Delhi as the prospective venue in its bid, it has been revised to Bharat Mandapam, venue of the G20 summit in 2023, located in the sprawling Pragati Maidan complex in New Delhi.

“Yes, AICF has bid for the World Championship,” its president Nitin Narang told HT. On Tamil Nadu government sending in a competing bid, he said: “We are the only federation who have got the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the union government for the bid.” According to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports’ policy, its approval is to be sought before bidding for any international event.

Fide said it has received a bid from Singapore as well. “One of the criteria in favour of Singapore is that it’s a neutral venue,” Fide CEO Emil Sutovsky told Chessbase India. The world chess body is expected to decide on the host this month.

On the competing bids from India, Sutovsky said: “It’s a bit of an internal clash. Fide for one would welcome the competition because it’s good that two major Indian cities want to host the event. We have to be very sensitive so as to not offend anyone and create any extra internal tension within India. Even if we split the match between two venues, still one of the three bidders will be disappointed.”

Interest for the match – between China’s reigning world champion Ding Liren and Indian teen phenom D Gukesh – later this year is running high in the country and has now led to a situation where Gukesh’s home state Tamil Nadu put in a bid independent of the national federation on May 29. AICF sent in its bid on May 31, the final day of submission.

Tamil Nadu has hosted major chess events like the World Championship in 2013 and the Olympiad, more recently in 2022, while Delhi hosted the first half of the World Championship in 2000. The final was played in Tehran where Viswanathan Anand won his first world title beating Alexei Shirov. India hasn’t had a world champion since Anand won it five times. The dominant belief is that 18-year-old Gukesh will end the wait and break Garry Kasparov’s record to become the youngest world champion.

Tamil Nadu’s bid is led by chief minister and DMK president, MK Stalin, who is part of the multi-party opposition bloc INDIA that is taking on the incumbent BJP-led ruling dispensation helmed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha polls. The results are due on June 4.

Gukesh being a son of the soil, Tamil Nadu might believe they have the first right to host the match. Insiders say that the national federation wasn’t consulted by Tamil Nadu before they turned in their bid. “It’s unfortunate that they didn’t even discuss their intent to submit a bid with AICF. If anyone can submit a bid as they please for an event of such magnitude, what’s the point of having a national federation?” said an official.

Responding to the question of admissibility of a bid not routed through the national federation, Fide legal director Aleksandr Martynov told HT: “The 2021 match regulations, for example, said that any federation member of Fide or any organiser approved by a national federation may bid for the World Championship. The bid announcement for this year’s match did not contain a requirement for all applications to be routed through the national federation.”

“The regulations of the 2023 match also did not contain such a requirement. At the same time, the opinion of the national federation is also one of the factors Fide takes into account when making the final decision.”

Competing bids allow Fide good leverage. The world body has already quoted a fairly steep minimum total budget of $8.5 million for the November 20-December 15 match. Sutovsky mentioned that one/more bids have quoted a budget higher than the minimum stipulated amount.

Security will also be in focus due to the political tension between India and China in recent years. And an Indian taking on a Chinese player to possibly become world champion makes for extraordinary optics. One that political leaders in India might be keen to cash in on.

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