Harika and Harikrishna

Hari, Harika bat for better promotion, profile for chess
Anand (since 1991), Hari (2004), Harika (2010) and Humpy, who vowed not to play in the country after withdrawing from 2015 Commonwealth championship following a fourth-round defeat, have not been part of any international event (barring World Cup) hosted by the AICF.

RAKESH RAO
NEW DELHI
17 MARCH, 2017 19:56 IST

For long, the Indian chess players have done consistently well at all levels. Medal winners at the World, Asian and Commonwealth championships, not to forget the clutch of titles in international events, have made the nation a force to reckon with in the chess world.

However, within the country, chess players are silent victims of the indifference of the corporate world, in general. Given the low profile of the sport and the perception that chess players are far too one-dimensional in character, both sports lovers and promoters take limited interest in their achievements.

Worse, the indifference of the All India Chess Federation (AICF) towards holding elite events has resulted in Viswanathan Anand, P. Hari Krishna, K. Humpy and D. Harika – the four players who are part of the world’s top-10 lists in November last – have not played in India for far too long.

Anand (since 1991), Hari (2004), Harika (2010) and Humpy, who vowed not to play in the country after withdrawing from 2015 Commonwealth championship following a fourth-round defeat, have not been part of any international event (barring World Cup) hosted by the AICF.

For World No. 14 Hari and eighth-ranked woman Harika, it is time the players did their bit to help attract corporate interest in the event.

“I agree, chess is not a spectator sport but world over, the rapid and blitz versions get plenty of eyeballs, both from spectators and the online followers of events,” says Hari and continues, “it is much like how the crowd is drawn to say T20 version in IPL, as compared to Test cricket.”

For starters, Hari suggests promotional events where country’s leading players are involved in blitz, lightning or blindfold chess events. “Unlike classical time-formats, the shorter versions of the game have huge spectator interest we see during the World rapid and blitz championship. In India, such events featuring our top players can make a huge difference.

“Simultaneous displays could also be organised to invite chess-loving decision-makers from various MNCs, Public Sector units, sports-promoting companies to play in these events,” said Hari.

He also suggests organising matches where India plays other countries in a “Test” series. “We can provide a bigger platform for the corporate for longer duration. They can surely get visibility, branding etc. When we play as the National team, it will have a pan-India appeal and this could also help in marketing the event better.”

World No. 8 Harika, who recently claimed her third bronze from the Women’s World championship, seconds Hari’s line of thinking and says, “Unless the corporate support comes to chess, the sport’s profile will continue to suffer. I strongly feel that chess achievers are not hailed enough and more than anyone in particular, the image of the game and its players is the reason for this indifference.”

Harika and Hari, among the few chess players managed by a private company, are willing to tweak their schedules suitably to be available for chess promotion in India.

“I am keen to make a difference.” asserts Harika who recently was in the Capital to meet President Pranab Mukherjee and Sports Minister Vijay Goel.

“I think the social media platforms also help in changing the profiles of the chess players. It is time to change the preconceived notion that chess players are very boring and serious individuals. Trust me, chess players are equally fun-loving and chilled out.”

Much like the former Asian champion and Olympiad medallist Tania Sachdev continues to reap the benefit of being presentable and articulate besides being a consistent performer, Harika wants to do her bit.

“I think, an impressive beginning has to be made and once corporate world is convinced that chess indeed provides a viable medium for their product and image-building, there will be no looking back,” asserts Harika, an eternal optimist.

Source: http://www.sportstarlive.com

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