Grand Master Ziaur Rahman believes holding the Joytu Sheikh Hasina International Online Chess Tournament will enhance Bangladesh's image among players across the world and that the healthy prize pool would motivate local players to perform.
The South Asian Chess Council in association with Canadian University and Bangladesh Chess Federation is holding the online chess tournament from today to mark the birth anniversary of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. US$6,000 will be disbursed as prize money among the players, with a kept separately for local players.
"Such a tournament will motivate players so much because there is a good amount of prize money. Holding such a tournament will improve the image of the country because it will give the message to chess players across the world that Bangladesh is going to be a good venue for chess," Zia said ahead of the rapid-chess tournament, which will be held in Swiss-League System in three days.
Bangladesh's international arbiter Haroonur Rashid confirmed that 17 Grand Masters, including three from Bangladesh, would be among a total of 74 players.
"It is happy news for us that such a good initiative has been taken after a long gap. Maybe it is going to be a very strong event because of the strong participants. Players from top Asian countries such as India and Iran are participating, so it is going to be tough for all players," said Zia, who however would prefer to play the classic event but believe online chess helps players be engaged in the game.
"While there are no classic events due to the pandemic, online chess has nevertheless helped keep players connected to the game rather than sitting idle. Players will struggle to keep their performance intact if they don't play any tournaments, so it is a good initiative to play online. In terms of professionalism, players won't be able to earn money if they don't get opportunity to take part," Zia said, advising to start classic events immediately.
"Staging the classic game is very necessary to take country's chess forward because Europe has already started the classic game. I think it is also possible to start chess in Bangladesh and we need a big hallroom and follow the way Europe is staging it. If it happens, senior and junior players will then be able to produce good results in online chess tournaments. Players have been almost out of action for nearly one year and such big gap is a threat to maintaining performance," said Zia.