The 1st SAARC Chess Championship begins in Dhaka today with close to 100 chess players of seven South Asian countries, sans Bhutan, participating in the FIDE Chess Zone 3.2 event.
Organised under the auspices of FIDE, the nine-round event will be held in Swiss League system, with 20,000 US dollars earmarked for prize money in the open, women’s and blitz chess section. The matches will be held at the FARS Hotel, starting from tomorrow.
A press conference in this regard was held at the National Sports Council conference room yesterday where Bangladesh Chess Federation’s general secretary Syed Shahab Uddin Shamim informed that a SAARC Chess Congress will be held on November 30 while a chess training session will be conducted by British Grand Master Nigel Short.
“We will not get Grand Master Niaz Murshed for this event due to his personal engagement. But we will hope to get the other big chess players within the country onboard for the inaugural edition of this event,” Shamim said.
“We hope to get Benazir Ahmed, the president of Bangladesh Chess Federation, nominated as the president of SAARC Chess in the congress on November 30. We are also bringing Nigel Short to take a master class of chess during the championship,” Shamim added.
While the event will give chess players from South Asia the opportunity to compete against each other, the quality of participants is questionable. Niaz, the first GM of the sub-continent, wondered how much this competition will really help our chess.
“I thank and congratulate the current committee for organising three international events this year. But the quality of participants could have been better so that our chess players could really become better competing against better players. These tournaments should be organised with proper planning and arrangement,” Niaz said.
While the organisers did not disclose the names of the Bangladeshi participants, saying they will wait till the last moment for entry, they did disclose the foreign participants, with India’s IM Nubairshah Shaikh being the highest rated foreign player with a rating of 2421.