Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is a huge chess fan. During a public function in Gandhinagar last month, Modi, in the presence of world chess champion Viswanthan Anand, said: “I am the president of Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) but I give more time to chess than cricket.”
And why not? Gujarat is trying to break Mexico’s world record of highest number of chess players playing the game simultaneously at the same time and at the same venue. El Zscalo, Mexico City’s central square, holds the record with 13,446 players assembling to play chess on October 21, 2006. Now Gujarat government, the Gujarat State Chess Association and NIIT are planning to accumulate 20,000 chess players at Sardar Patel Stadium in Navarangpura on December 24 and break Mexico’s record by many miles. Former world champion Anatoly Karpov was the guest of honour in Mexico and current world champion Anand will be the guest of honour at the Sardar Patel Stadium on that historic day.
On Wednesday, when top table tennis players from the state met the Chief Minister to apprise him of their achievements in a small function at his Gandhinagar office, Modi again reiterated his stand towards chess and asked all TT players to play chess to be mentally sharp. He also urged that every household should have a chess board and everybody should play chess. He also appraised the small gathering about Gujarat’s record-breaking effort in December.
His love for chess apart, the Chief Minister was highly impressed with the achievements of the TT players as well, especially junior India number one and a member of the core TT team practising for the Commonwealth Games Harmeet Desai. Chief Minister was highly appreciative of the Gujarat team’s performance at various national and international level and asked them to keep up the good work.
India international Pathik Mehta and Gujarat number one in men’s Jignesh Jaiswal and women’s top seed Divya Gohil were also present on the occasion. Other promising players present on the occasion were Frenaz Chippia, Nargis Malubhai, Sapna Sharma, Steffi Gomes and Kushal Sangtani. The players were accompanied by president of Gujarat State Table Tennis Association (GSTTA) Vipul Mittra and secretary Haresh Sangtani. Chief Minister also obliged autograph seekers and he was seen signing on the players T-shirts in Gujarati.
Apart from other details, the GSTTA also appraised the CM about a senior national table tennis championships which they plan to host at the newly-built Kokhra Sports Complex in Maninagar later this year.