International Chess Federation
Wednesday, 14 Feb 2024 16:13
Starting with a bang: Chess Torch Ceremony kicks off FIDE's centennial celebration

2024 promises to be a momentous year for chess as FIDE celebrates its 100th birthday. To commemorate this huge milestone, the year will be filled with chess activities around the world - from festivals and historical exhibitions, to special tournaments such as the Candidates. There is a lot in store and a lot to be excited about.

Now, what better way to start the festivities with a bang? This is exactly what happened today, with a special Chess Torch Ceremony held in India to mark FIDE's centennial celebration.

The Chess Torch Ceremony began with a vibrant event in New Delhi at the Major Dhyan National Stadium. The event, rich in cultural performances and chess-related activities, saw the lighting of the Chess Torch by India's Sports Minister, Anurag Singh Thakur.

Esteemed guests and chess greats, including Viswanathan Anand and Judit Polgar, were present, and the big day included multiple chess activities and speeches.

The event began at 08:30 with a Kids Blitz tournament, with chess legends Viswanathan Anand and Judit Polgar making their inaugural moves, setting a lively and inclusive tone for the day.

Dr. Sanjay Kapoor, President of the All India Chess Federation, offered a warm welcome address, followed by a captivating video presentation celebrating FIDE's centennial and its diverse activities planned for the year.

Then, a "Hand & Brain" chess game between Mr Anurag Singh Thakur and Vishy Anand vs Arkady Dvorkovich and Judit Polgar was played, adding an interactive element to the event. What was the result, you may ask? Well, after some friendly competition, the game ended in a draw!

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich delivered an address, further emphasizing the global and unifying nature of chess, stating, "It is my firm belief, and our joint vision at FIDE, that chess is not just a game or a sport, but it is a huge tool to improve our society.” 

This address highlighted how chess can bridge cultures, ages, and backgrounds and how FIDE aims to bring chess to all communities in the world. The speech was followed by a vibrant cultural act representing various parts of India, showcasing the country's diverse heritage and connection to chess.

The highlight of the ceremony was the lighting of the cauldron by Mr. Anurag Singh Thakur and Arkady Dvorkovich, symbolizing the official start of the Chess Torch Relay, which aims to unite the chess community worldwide. The Torch will travel the world to reach Budapest, Hungary in September, where the 45th Chess Olympiad will take place.

All India Chess Federation President, Dr Sanjay Kapoor’s address beautifully highlighted the significance of the Torch:

“Today, as the torch embarks on its journey from India to Budapest, let us remember that it symbolizes the unity and camaraderie that define our global chess family. And the values that it represents: perseverance, determination, and the unbreakable bonds that tie us together. Together, let us ignite the flames of inspiration and passion for the game of chess, and may they burn brightly for generations to come.”

Overall, it was a uniquely meaningful day which represents the special centennial year that we, as a global chess community, will get to celebrate with FIDE.

Photos: Stev Bonhage