Malayali volunteers of Chess Olympiad share 'unusual' routine of Magnus Carlsen


Anand P

"Magnus Carlsen, the reigning five-time World Chess Champion, plays football hours before the match every day with his Norway teammates. It will be extremely hot outside, yet they insist on playing for hours"

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Magnus Carlsen(L), Devansh , Sandeep | Photo: Arranged

"Magnus Carlsen, the reigning five-time World Chess Champion, plays football hours before the match every day with his Norway teammates. It will be extremely hot outside, yet they insist on playing for hours. After this, they return to the room and leave for the venue. The team goes straight to the gym after coming back from the venue. They say physical health is mandatory in chess," says Sandeep, a Malayali volunteer of the 44th edition of the Chess Olympiad in Chennai. Sandeep, a chess coach from Kerala, is one of the 19 Malayali volunteers in the Chess Olympiad who furnishes various duties in event venues, hotels, transportation and others.

Chennai has been donning black and white colours for the last few weeks and eagerly awaiting the Olympiad to kick start in Mahabalipuram. In the streets, top-seeded players can now be seen travelling in dozens of buses and minivans. However, the machine that made this a possibility is the 400 volunteers working day and night to provide services to the international players.

Prior to the event, the All India Chess Federation (AICF) selected volunteers from various age groups from different states based on their passion for the game. Beginning on July 21, these volunteers, which included 19 Malayalis, were assigned multiple roles and were assigned in various parts of the city.

Malayali volunteers in Chess Olympiad | Photo: Arranged

"Volunteers are assigned in hotels where players from various countries are accommodated. While some volunteers were given daily duty in the venue, others would assist players with their accommodation and travel. Volunteers play a pivotal role in the smooth functioning of events," says Sreerekha, a college graduate from Perinthalmanna who decided to volunteer due to her passion for the sport. She is one of the many youngsters from across the country volunteering in various hotels booked by the organisers in Chennai for the guest.

"The contestants are provided accommodations in various five-star hotels in Chennai. Buses are arranged for their event venue. If police security is needed, the Tamil Nadu police are available at our disposal. Additionally, we assist them in their trips to nearby travel destinations. We rarely sleep, and the excitement in meeting all these players let us stay awake even during the wee hours of the day," she said.

Like Sreerekha, Sandeep is assigned to the hotel where the Norweigian team is accommodated. He is one of the many volunteers assigned to look after the day-to-day needs of top-seeded players like Magnus Carlsen. "Two luxurious cars are allotted for Carlsen. Meanwhile, players from other countries travel in vans we arranged from the city. Apart from Carlsen, we were fortunate enough to meet Grandmaster Eric Hansen, Fabiano Luigi Caruana, and others. Some volunteers had taken part in Fabiano Caruana's birthday party held in the hotel," he said.

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