Thinley Namgay   

Ten chess players, five men and five women, will represent Bhutan in the 44th Chess Olympiad to be held in Chennai, India, from July 28 to August 10.

The tournament will be a formal international chess competition for Bhutanese players after eight years since the chess federation became dormant.

The chess club started only last year.

The Bhutan Chess Federation selected the players on May 21 and 22 in Thimphu through an open competition. Fifteen players participated in the selection.

For the next two months, players will undergo online training.

The Chess Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament. The International Chess Federation, FIDE, selects the host country.

The tournament was supposed to take place in Russia, but following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, FIDE changed the venue.

The general secretary of the chess club, Ugyen Wangchuk, said all the players participated in the Swiss system game with six rounds. “Only the top five players with the highest points are selected.”

He said although they should be using the rating, but Bhutan lacks rated players so far.  “Moreover, those rated are out of the country or unable to attend the selection.”

Ugyen Wangchuk said he expects a good game from the players despite setbacks such as limited training, experience, and international exposure.

Meanwhile, a player, Vakta Mongar said all the players are self-taught. “Players didn’t have the proper coaching and guiding classes. What we want is good coaching.”

He said some good players didn’t come for the selection. “It might be because of distance, out of station or the family issue.”

Vakta Mongar said the chess federation needs to set a good foundation for the future generation so that Bhutan could also participate in the Olympics.