World record entries boosts Delhi International Open

This is the richest prize-money chess event in the country and, nationally, stands second to golf across all sporting disciplines, not counting the dollar-events.

A ringside view of over 1500 players playing the 'C' category event of the 17th Delhi International Open chess tournament in New Delhi's Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium this week. The record number of 1534 entries is most in any open event in the world.   -  David Llada

Finally, the ‘C’ category event of the Delhi International Open chess tournament stands officially acknowledged by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) as the one with most number of entries.

The premier annual event, played at the spacious Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium here in three rating sections offering a prize money of Rs. 1.01 crore, is already the richest prize-money chess event in the country. Nationally, it stands second to golf across all sporting disciplines, not counting the dollar-events.

In addition to the unprecedented entries, that rose from last year’s 2320 to 2815 for the just-concluded event, an email from FIDE provided an added reason for the organiser, Delhi Chess Association, to be in a buoyant mood.

According to FIDE Director Vladimir Kukaev, the previous highest number of entries was 1273 in the ‘C’ Category of the 2018 edition of the tournament. Unlike a year ago, Kukaev’s confirmation has ended all speculation over the authenticity of the record. The 2019 edition attracted 1534 entries in ‘C’ Category and that stands as the new world record in any Swiss League event in the game.

Ironical as it may sound, the number rose sharply despite the organiser reducing the maximum rating stipulation from 1600 to 1500 this year.

"This is indeed a momentous occasion for all us involved," said a jubilant Bharat Singh Chauhan, the secretary of the All India Chess Federation. "We knew we had the maximum number of entries but the confirmation from FIDE reinforces our commitment to take the number to a new high year after year."

Chauhan, also the Chairman of the Organising Committee, hailed the team behind the event and praised the participating players, their parents and coaches, for making it the "biggest open event in the world".

The Delhi Chess Association secretary A. K. Verma, formerly with Indian Air Force, promised to make the event bigger and better. "We are committed to raise the bar while constantly improving the playing conditions for our players. In spite of the rising logistical challenges, in biting cold conditions prevailing in the capital during this time of the year, we will continue to make value additions for an even higher number of participants."