Al Ain: More than 4,000 guests, including the world’s top chess players in various junior age-group categories, their families, and support teams, were at hand as the 13th Fide World Youth Chess Championships opened on Tuesday night at UAE University’s Crescent Hall.
Billed as the biggest event in the history of the championships, the chess showpiece got under way with the players being welcomed with an enthralling display of UAE folk music and dance performances. The theme of the opening ceremony was highlighted by the operetta ‘Emirates Land of Love, Friendship and Peace’.
Shaikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Shakhbout, President of the Asian Chess Confederation (ACC) and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), delivered a welcome speech, in which he thanked the UAE leaders for the rapid development of the youth and sports sectors.
“To all the attendees in this hall, to all the delegations who came from different parts of the world to take part in the championships, to all the athletes who trained and worked hard for long hours in order to represent their countries honourably, I welcome you all to my home, the UAE,” Shaikh Sultan said.
“This event has registered many new records; it is the first of its kind to be held in the Middle East and with a record number of countries and participants — with more than 4,000 participants from 120 countries — and we are happy and pleased to be the hosts.
“It was a hard task to provide accommodation and healthy competitive atmosphere for all these participants but we accepted the challenge. With the cooperation and assistance of many public departments and private corporations, we overcame all the hurdles and obstacles. I would like to express our gratitude to the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), UAE University, the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare, Ministry of Interior, Shaikha Fatima Academy for Women Sports, Etihad Airways and the Al Ain Municipality for being our partners in the organisation of this event.
“I would like to address the young boys and girls taking part in the junior and youth competitions in this tournament that they have the opportunity to prove to the whole world that they are really the future of the game and tomorrow’s world champions. I want them not to squander this chance and I wish all of you the best of luck.” Shaikh Sultan said.
Shaikh Sultan, on behalf of the event patron Shaikh Nahyan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, opened the tournament in the presence of top chess officials headed by Fide President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and his deputy Georgios Makropoulos.