44th Chess Olympiad: Report from a Volunteer
Sahil Batra was a volunteer in the Chennai Chess Olympiad 2022. He has been involved in the world of chess for more than 15 years - first as a player and then as a coach. Due to the immense love he has for the game, this event meant the world to him and he was lucky enough to have been selected as a volunteer and contributed his bit. In this short report, he writes about the selection process for the Volunteer program, his roles and duties, his experiences, and the things he learned.
The selection process
Candidates who were interested to be part of the olympiad had to fill up a google form in which there were questions about one's involvement and interest in the game of chess, questions on experience in organizing any event to check leadership qualities.
Based on this google form, they shortlisted the candidates for a live interaction session to check their communication skills and confidence. The selection process was very smooth and professional.
The training process
All the selected candidates were called a week before the start of the main event. The stay and food were much better than what we expected. All the volunteers were flattered by the hospitable nature shown by All India Chess Federation and the Government of Tamil Nadu. Our training sessions included the activities that would help us in-
● The Teamwork.
● Active listening.
The training session was actually the most fun part of the event as we were not known to other volunteers so we got to know each other in the most fun way possible.
My role and duties
The department which was assigned to me was the Accommodation department. Teams and delegates from 187 countries were accommodated in 22 different hotels. I was a volunteer in one of the hotels named 'Kaldan Samudhra' where 8 teams were allocated. The teams were: Finland, Germany, Montenegro, Iran, Hongkong, Argentina, Portugal, and Kazakhstan.
Firstly, I felt honored that I will be assisting such big names in the chess world like Parham Maghsoodloo, Zhansaya Abdumalik, and Vincent Keymer who were staying in my hotel. Me and 2 other female volunteers were taking care of all the queries of these 8 teams right from their check-ins to their checkouts. Our major roles were -
● Their easy and hassle-free check-in.
● 24/7 help desk for any query related to the event.
● Provide them with accreditation cards and welcome kits.
● Schedule meetings and rounds.
● Coordinating with the arrival and transportation team.
● Medical aid.
● Easy and hassle-free checkout.
Once all the teams arrived and the tournament started, I was assigned the sub-duty in the venue as a fair play volunteer. The main objective of a fair play volunteer is to check the players don't use any electronic or unwanted means to cheat in the game. Other objectives were - we had to check that the right person enters the playing hall with correct accreditations and playing cards and that players don't talk to each in between or after the rounds. The fair play committee gives us a checklist to bring players for random checks.
My Overall Learning & The Experience
On the day of the opening ceremony, no transportation volunteer was available to accompany players to the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. So, Tamil Nadu government officials assigned me this duty on the spot to accompany players to the stadium. As it's been said that "whatever happens, happens for good" - because of this lucky incident, I was able to witness one of the most beautiful and extraordinary opening ceremonies. I haven't seen so many people with different backgrounds, cultures, and languages under one roof. I happened to witness some great personalities like Shri Narendra Modi Ji, CM of Tamil Nadu M.K. Stalin sir, 5 times world Champion Vishy Anand sir, legendary actor Rajnikant sir and I were lucky enough to meet and take photos with every member of team India!
In the venue hall, I was lucky to witness all the top players playing live. I met big names like Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So, and Anish Giri. I also met prodigies like Nihal Sarin, Praggnanandhaa, and Gukesh D. A player outside the playing hall has so many shades of personality, he is just another person like us. As a part of the fair play team, I was able to witness the beast player inside them over the board, and as part of the accommodation team, I was able to witness different shades of their personalities.
This is truly a dream come true event for me with so many unforgettable memories. To show how this event went for me, I've made a video just to preserve my memories in mp4 format forever. Here is my 21 days journey in 300 seconds. Even Chessbase India which recently hit 1 million subscribers has appreciated and shared this video on their Instagram!
Influence of the Olympiad
Chess will surely be uplifted and boosted after this mega event. So many young lads are already the flag bearers of Indian chess, and they've influenced not just young players but revived the buried interest of millions. The scale on which the Olympiad was promoted has truly echoed some voices in every Indian household. From this point forward, every house in India will surely recognize chess as a competitive sport, and chess will get the respect it deserves.
About the author
Sahil Batra has been a part of the chess community for more than 15 years, first as a player and now as a coach. My fide rating is 1732. In this beautiful journey, he happened to meet and play with Mr. Aamir Khan during the shoot of the movie Dangal and wrote an article about it for ChessBase India. He used to teach chess in an orphanage, and one of his students played in the District level tournament. Find out more about his wonderful deed of kindness. Shreya Chaturvedi