The Odisha government will conduct chess competitions at school and college levels regularly to promote the game in a professional manner, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said here on Friday.
Patnaik said this after handing over the first ever Relay Torch for Chess Olympiad to Padmini Rout at a function at the Convention Centre in Loka Seva Bhawan.
Woman Grandmaster Kiran Manisha Mohanty brought the Relay Torch to Loka Seva Bhawan here and handed it over to chief patron of All Odisha Chess Association Achyuta Samant.
The Chief Minister received the torch from Samant. Both Kiran and Padmini are celebrated international chess players from Odisha. As many as six players from Odisha including Padmini Rout will participate in the Chess Olympiad to be held in Chennai.
Speaking on the occasion, Patnaik said that it’s a proud moment for India as it is hosting an international sport event like Chess Olympiad in the 75th year of Independence. He added that chess originated in India and was known as Chaturang.
Stating that Odisha has been producing good results in chess, he said, “Some of our players have done exceedingly well at national and international events. We have also organised the World Junior Chess championship in 2016.
“We intend to further strengthen the game across the state, especially in schools. This is a game which can easily be spread as not much infrastructure or equipment is required. We will create competitions at school and college levels regularly and promote the game in a professional manner," he said, expressing his vision for chess promotion.
Extending his best wishes to the All India Chess Federation, All Odisha Chess Federation, Government of India and Government of Tamil Nadu for organising this grand event, the CM said that probably for the first time in India representatives from around 200 countries will participate in a sports event.
India has produced some of the best chess players in the world. This mega event will further promote the game and create future champions, he added.
The CM said he is happy that the Torch Relay will be taken to the state’s heritage sites in Puri and Konark. He wished good luck to the Indian contingent which is taking part in this Olympiad. He hoped victory for the Indian contingent.
The Olympic Relay Torch was received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at New Delhi on June 19 and he handed it over to Grand Master Viswanathan Anand. The Relay Torch will be carried to 75 iconic places of India including Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark in Odisha.
Speaking on the occasion, Odisha sports minister Tushar Kanti Behera said that Odisha has received immense appreciation in the field of sports under the leadership of Patnaik. The government is building international standard sports infrastructure and hosting international sporting events quite successfully, Behera added.