All India Chess Federation (AICF) plans to host more international tournaments in India to ensure its top players get enough world-class competitions, its president Nitin Narang said on Sunday.

Narang said since all the top players in the country cannot get the opportunity to play in every big tournament every year, the AICF will soon start its own international ‘Super Tournament’, though he did not divulge the details.

“It (Super Tournament) will have a reservation of a certain number of Indian players, while we will also be inviting overseas players to participate, thus allowing these players to get the same amount of exposure with less expenditure,” Narang told PTI in an interview.

“With the Indian players outperforming foreign players, after talking to a few of the Indians, it has been learnt that a few of the global tournaments will have a cap on the number of Indians participating in it,” he added.

Narang said the federation plans to host the maximum number of AICF-rated tournaments going forward.

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“We are focusing on getting an AICF round-robin elite tournament, where the top Indian players would compete with each other. Overall, these tournaments would further help in conducting more tournaments in the country.” AICF is investing Rs. 65 crore into the sport as per its recent announcement, which will be the biggest planned budget in the federation’s history.

Asked how the AICF will mobilise the planned budget, Narang disclosed that an early commitment was already in place for an initial Rs 25 crore from the sponsors.

“We already have a commitment of Rs 25 crore from the sponsors for five years, and the process of contracting is already underway. It’s a big breakthrough since never in AICF’‘s history has this much money ever flowed in. But, this is just the beginning. The project cost of Rs 65 crore for the upcoming three years will be smoothly accomplished with the help of corporates who have been supporting chess for a while now,” he said.

The AICF chief also asserted that when it comes to prize money, there will be no differentiation between male and female players, with equal pay for both genders.

“In our approach, we are not differentiating on prize money between male and female. Our announcement includes having a national contract for the top three players across categories, with the contract amount being the same for males and females,” he said.

“It is also the same for the top 20 rated players awards, which we recently announced. We will maintain this same consistent approach throughout.” He said the federation would be working on bolstering the current basic structure of the sport in the country, besides helping the chess ecosystem on a wider scale.

The AICF on Saturday announced many new key initiatives that it will look to implement in the next three years to change the landscape of the sport in the country.

Narang said it would all start at the district level, followed by promoting the sport in schools by including in the curriculum, besides having an AICF rating system in place.

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“We are focusing on strengthening the basic structure, starting with having a district association in every district of the country. Secondly, we are looking to introduce chess in every school of all states across the nation, not just in the current education module but also in implementing the e-learning module. Thirdly, we have the long-term vision of having district-level chess academies. It will enable us to nurture the chess talent pool from the schools to the district level,” he said.

“Also, we have plans to introduce an AICF rating system. Many players are playing at the amateur level, but we cannot keep track of them and their performance since they don’t play in the FIDE-rated tournaments,” he added.

He said that having an AICF rating system will allow players to get rated, which in return would allow to have more AICF tournaments. It will also allow the chess ecosystem to flourish throughout the country.

Although India has quite a few chess academies, most of the renowned ones happen to be in Chennai.

On the same note, Narang noted that the AICF plans to immediately launch at least 20 academies, besides seeking help from the corporate sector to set up over 700 standardised academies throughout the country.

“Twenty online academies will be started by AICF in collaboration with reputed coaches and Grandmasters. The process and applications for the GMs to be associated with these academies will be rolled out,” he stated.

“After having the AICF Rating in place, we will be funding the top 20 players in each age category across genders. The funding will go in grant-in-aid form to these academies and coaches. In this manner, we will be able to support around 320 players directly, and it will be immediately implemented,” he said.

“Also, we will be looking to penetrate more into the district-level academies with the help of the corporate sector. We will also be seeking their help to standardise the academies across the districts and aim to have 753 such academies up and running soon,” he concluded.