‘Checkmate Coronavirus’ winners in seventh heaven

‘Checkmate Coronavirus’ winners in seventh heaven

“This is my first-ever Olympiad and this is my first visit to India. I feel so happy to be here. The people are helpful. I am trying to get used to the food,” added Morad.

CHENNAI: In chess, which is the talk of the town due to the ongoing 44th Olympiad at Mahabalipuram, the term ‘checkmate’ signals the end of a game.

But, ‘Checkmate Coronavirus’, a marathon online project of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), marked the beginning of something special for 26 major winners, who are on an all-expenses paid trip to Mahabalipuram to witness the Olympiad.

In May-June 2020, the international body organised ‘Checkmate Coronavirus’ on four platforms – Lichess, Chess.com, chess24 and FIDE Online Arena – through which around 1.2 lakh participants competed in over 2,700 tournaments.

China’s Ding Liren (World No.2) and Anish Giri (World No.9) from the Netherlands are some of the prominent names who took part in the month-long project. In the end, the “luckiest” ones walked away with the top prizes via ‘raffles’ as interest shown in tournaments took precedence and results in games held little significance.

At the Olympiad venue on Monday, DT Next caught up with two major winners – Morad Magdy Anwar Mahmoud Attia of Egypt and Bangladesh’s Syed Aminur Rahaman – who are in seventh heaven. “I screamed out of happiness when I was announced as one of the winners. The chances were not so great because there were many players in the lucky draw. Now, I am on a magical trip,” said Morad, who played the board game day and night during ‘Checkmate Coronavirus’.

“This is my first-ever Olympiad and this is my first visit to India. I feel so happy to be here. The people are helpful. I am trying to get used to the food,” added Morad.

On his part, Syed, a young journalist back home, said: “During the COVID-19 lockdown, I played chess online for passing the time. I never expected to end up as one of the winners. I am lucky and I feel so happy. I cannot explain my feeling in words. This is my first Olympiad. The experience has been amazing so far.”

Morad and Syed got to meet their idols besides catching the action live from the two playing halls. “I met Jan-Krzysztof Duda (of Poland) and Levon Aronian (of the USA). Duda is my favourite player, so I took a photo with him,” revealed Syed.

“For the first time, I met some ‘Super’ Grandmasters. It was great to meet some stars whose games we study. I clicked a picture with Fabiano Caruana (of the USA),” said Morad. While COVID-19 remains a bane around the globe, the ‘Checkmate Coronavirus’ was undoubtedly a boon to the chess world.

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