All India Chess Federation to start Indian Chess League

December 15, 2021

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The All India Chess Federation announced the formation of an Indian Chess League with the prize money stipulated to be ‘at least 2 crores’, on Tuesday in New Delhi. The tournament has been in the works for the past couple of years and is set to be conducted in June 2022. The format will be Rapid and Blitz with a double round-robin setup.

The entire league will be held over the duration of two weeks with six franchises up for grabs, according to AIFC president Dr Sanjay Kapoor. The top two teams will meet in the final and the tournament is set to take place in ‘one or two’ Indian cities. “We will announce the criteria for becoming a franchise owner shortly. We have already received a good response from corporates,” said Bharat Singh, the general secretary of AICF, in a press conference on Tuesday.

The tournament is set to be organised by Gameplan Sports Private Limited who have been roped in to hold, organise and promote the Indian Chess League. “Most of the top chess players, including Magnus Carlsen have said that India will be the next superpower in chess. Most of the data points in that direction, said Gameplan director Jeet Banerjee.

He then spoke about the economics of holding yet another league in India. Apart from a select few, leagues have rarely been able to survive the economics of the market. “We need to be realistic. We are working on the figures. For a league to work, the entire economy has to work in a reasonable manner for all parties. If tomorrow there are team owners that don’t see value in the league, or are making significant losses, then they wouldn’t be continuing. I think one of the expectations of chess with regards to economics is not sky high,” said Banerjee.

Each team is set to have a total of eight players. The breakup, according to AICF, will be two super GMs, two Indian GMs, 2 Women GMs, and one junior Indian boy and girl.

Speaking about how watching Vishwanathan Anand in the 2002 Chess World Championship inspired him to take up the sport, World No.20 and Indian Chess team captain Vidit Gujarathi said, “It’s a dream come true not just for me but all chess players in India. It makes me proud to have our own chess league. The youth will benefit from watching top GMs from across the world coming and playing here. It will give them invaluable experience.”

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