Thinley Namgay   

Ten chess players and two team captains from the Bhutan Chess Federation have landed yesterday in Kolkata, India, to participate in the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai that will begin tomorrow.

Team Bhutan will land in Chennai today.

For the first time, five Bhutanese women players are taking part in this biennial competition.

Bhutan is participating in the Chess Olympiad for the second time after the 43rd Chess Olympiad in Norway in 2014.

Bhutan Chess Federation selected the players in May.

International Chess Federation, FIDE’s trainer Vishal Sareen from India and Chaturanga from Sri Lanka trained the participants for three months. Bhutan’s only FIDE-certified national instructor, Karma Sonam, also trained the players.

The general secretary of the chess club, Ugyen Wangchuk, said Bhutan’s team members are competent as most players are mostly engineers, who are either employed or self-employed and four are students. “One is a college student and three are school students. The two youngest players are from Dr Tobgyel School in Thimphu.”

According to the general secretary, the chess Olympiad is the most prestigious platform, where all the world champions gather to play. “I am expecting some wins since players were trained by the renowned FIDE certified trainer Vishal, an Indian international master.”

Ugyen  Wangchuk said that most of the players are from other dzongkhags and over-the-board training was not possible. “It was very difficult to get trainers since the federation is quite new.”

Bhutan chess club was started only last year.

The chess Olympiad is also expected to gain experience for the young players to compete in the 2023 youth Olympiad.

The 44th Chess Olympiad was supposed to take place in Russia, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, FIDE changed the venue.

More than 2,000 players from 180 countries will participate in the tournament that will end on August 10.