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Viswanathan Anand, Five-time World Chess Champion and Deputy President, FIDE, at the Global Chess League inauguration in Dubai on Wednesday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Chess is all about moves. The right moves will result in success while the wrong one will end up in a loss, while a champion needs to be at least four or five moves ahead of the opposition. The newly launched Global Chess League, a joint venture by FIDE and Tech Mahindra, has ensured that the franchise league has made the big move to bring out the richest chess league in the history of the sport.

The six-team Global Chess League, in association with Dubai Sports Council as the host partner, has ambitious plans to merge technology to enhance fan experience to boost the popularity of the game in a made for TV format from June 21 to July 2.

Round-robin format

The first three editions will feature six teams with six players each, including a minimum of two female players and one icon player per team. The six teams will compete in a round-robin format where each team will play 10 matches.

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Viswanathan Anand, Ali Omar Albalooshi, Dr. Aman Puri, CP Gurnani with other officials and young chess enthusiasts in Dubai. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

“It is exciting to be in Dubai to announce the Global Chess League,” Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, five-time world champion and the Deputy President, FIDE, told the news gathering during the launch of the league in Dubai on Wednesday.

Sporting capital of the world

“We are going to have the best men, best women and best junior players all compete in this franchise format. We want to leverage the technology at Tech Mahindra’s disposal to enable fans to engage and almost feel themselves playing. They will be able to watch the chessboard and visualise the next move and feel why did the player not follow his idea. Chess has grown a lot recently and I have seen the ideal moment now to develop the new way of engaging with the fans in the new made-for-TV format and to bring the excitement more.”

Dubai has been the sporting capital of the world and hosted the World Chess Championship in 2021 during the Dubai Expo, which was a big success. “Dubai has been attracting various sporting events. It’s wonderful to partner with Dubai, the new sporting capital of the world,” Anand added.

New audience

Each match in the league will feature six boards that will be played simultaneously. The top two teams will qualify for the final, to be played on July 2 and battle to be crowned the world Champion Franchise Team.

Talking about the inaugural edition of Global Chess League, Saeed Hareb, Secretary General, Dubai Sports Council, said: “Hosting the Global Chess League is a momentous occasion for us. FIDE and Tech Mahindra’s vision for the league will truly bring the sport of chess to a new audience and help existing fans relate to the sport more than before.”

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Viswanathan Anand plays against a robot at the Global Chess League inauguration in Dubai on Wednesday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Sport and life

CP Gurnani, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra spoke on the rich tradition of chess in India, which originated in the country 1,500 years ago, and its presence in chess. He added how proud he felt to bring different Grandmasters from different parts of the world to compete and promote the game.

“There are millions of children aged under-7 around the world. We want to make chess as part of their growing up. It is a common dream between Tech Mahindra and FIDE. Chess teaches you winning strategy, anticipation, decision making. When you visualise the winning, the external factors and stay ahead, then you are a Grandmaster. Not just in sport, in everyday life,” Gurnani added.

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French sand artist Luc Marin tracing the growth of chess with the sands of Dubai. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

New era for chess

Jagdish Mitra, Chairperson, Global Chess League Board, said: “Dubai has emerged as a major global sports and business destination in the last decade. This makes Dubai an ideal location for hosting the inaugural edition… we look forward to ushering a new era for the sport.”

However, Anand’s firm belief shows chess’ future in black and white. “In the end chess has to win. In the recent World Championship every single day you saw an exciting game and everyone wants to follow it. That’s what brings fans to the game. What we are trying to do is find the interesting format and presenting the beauty,” Anand concluded.

Dr. Aman Puri, Indian Consul General, Dubai, Ali Omar Albalooshi, Director of Events Department in Dubai Sports Council, Saeed Yousef Shakary, Secretary General of Dubai Chess Club, Parag Shah, Member, Global Chess League Board, and Jagdish Mitra, Chairperson, Global Chess League Board, and other officials were present during the inauguration. As a sideshow, Anand played a game of chess with a robot and had to quit midway after the robot came under immense pressure, while the history of chess was traced through sand art form by renowned sand artist Luc Marin of France.