Big Picture Contest
Is this an open air chess board?
It is Chennai’s iconic Napier Bridge which got a ‘chess makeover’ to promote the 44th Chess Olympiad scheduled to take place in Mahabalipuram.
The Napier Bridge is more than 150 years old but the celebrations it has witnessed in recent times are perhaps without precedent. The celebration is about the 44th Chess Olympiad, which Chennai’s neighbouring heritage town of Mahabalipuram is hosting. It is India's first Olympiad - the equivalent of a FIFA World Cup in chess and everyone seems to be overjoyed at being able to host this mega event, such is the pride in being the chess capital of the country. The event is huge in terms of its scale: around 2000 players from 188 countries gathered here. This included the world’s best names - Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Mariya Muzychuk and others.
The last time Chennai hosted a big-ticket chess event was in 2013, when local chess hero Viswanathan Anand took on current world champion Magnus Carlsen in the World Chess Championship. That inspired a whole new generation to take up the sport and the Olympiad aims to build on that. The 2022 Olympiad was initially to be held in Russia but that changed with the invasion of Ukraine.
It is a fitting venue for the event, given that Tamil Nadu is home to 26 of the 74 Indian Grandmasters. Branding of the event is virtually everywhere – from buses being painted black and white, to bus stands, traffic signals and metro pillars. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin and music maestro AR Rahman starred in a promo video walking along Napier Bridge – both were dressed in white and were surrounded by dancers in black.