The winners of the “Checkmate Coronavirus” in seventh heaven

CHENNAI: In chess, which is much talked about due to the ongoing 44th Olympiad in Mahabalipuram, the term ‘checkmate’ signals the end of a game.

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

In May-June 2020, the international body organized “Checkmate Coronavirus” on four platforms – Lichess, Chess.com, chess24 and FIDE Online Arena – through which around 1.2 lakh participants participated in more than 2,700 tournaments.

Chinese Ding Liren (world number 2) and Dutchman Anish Giri (world number 9) are some of the prominent names who took part in this month-long project. In the end, the ‘luckiest’ walked away with the top prizes via ‘raffles’, as interest in tournaments prevailed and game results mattered little.

On Monday at the Olympiad site, DT Next met two big winners – Morad Magdy Anwar Mahmoud Attia from Egypt and Syed Aminur Rahaman from Bangladesh – who are thrilled. “I cried out with happiness when I was announced as one of the winners. The chances weren’t that great because there were a lot of players in the draw. Now I’m on a magical journey” , said Morad, who played the board game day and night during “Checkmate Coronavirus”.

“It’s my very first Olympiad and it’s my first visit to India. I feel so happy to be here. People are helpful. I’m trying to get used to the food,” Morad added.

Meanwhile, Syed, a young, returning journalist, said: “During the COVID-19 lockdown, I played chess online to pass the time. I didn’t expect to be one of the winners. I’m lucky and I feel so happy. I cannot explain my feeling with words. It’s my first Olympiad. The experience has been amazing so far.

Morad and Syed were able to meet their idols in addition to watching the action live from both gaming rooms. Duda is my favorite player so I took a picture with him,” Syed revealed.

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

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