Ever since Gariahat Chess Club’s inception in 2006, Wednesday was perhaps the most historic day, which will be cherished by its members and chess enthusiasts of the city for years to come. The excitement was palpable when two of the world’s most renowned chess players – grandmaster Ding Liren and grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura – visited the club and even settled down for a game or two with the club members.
Ding and Hikaru are in Kolkata to take part in one of the biggest international chess tournaments and they made the most of this opportunity by visiting the chess club. The news of their arrival had spread like wildfire, drawing chess fans from across the city under the Gariahat flyover, the home of the club. So, when Liren and Hikaru reached the spot, they were almost mobbed by fans and players alike.
“I have visited a number of countries, but I never came across a chess club on such a busy road,” said Hikaru, who looked bewildered seeing a sea of people, traffic and the overwhelming passion of locals for the game. “I heard that people, many of them without any formal training, gather here to play chess. This shows how passionate this city is about the game,” he added.
Aronyok Ghosh, a Class 10 student of South Point High School, got a chance to play a match with Hikaru at the club. He said, “This is like a dream come true. I play and follow chess passionately. So, sharing a chess board with grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura is a really big deal for me,” he told us.
The other club members were equally enthused. Abhijit Saha, the club secretary, said that many chess enthusiasts from across the city have been gathering here for more than two decades. “Even though our club was registered in 2006, it is much older than that. But, just like many other sports in the country, chess never gets the limelight it deserves. At a time when so many world-renowned chess players are in Kolkata, all people talk about is cricket,” he added.
Source: Times of India