MADURAI: The ongoing World Chess Championship in Chennai has drawn the attention of even people who are ignorant about chess. Simultaneously, interest in this game has revived among people of all ages in the region, though school students are keener than others.

Muralidharan, a class 7 student from Keren matriculation school on the outskirts of Madurai, is thrilled after he was taken to see a game between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen. “I was under the impression that the players will be deeply absorbed in their game without even batting an eye. It was surprising to see how relaxed they are while playing, though concentrating totally in the game,” the boy commented. Along with him, three more students and two staff from the school had gone to Chennai which is hosting the World Chess Championship.

Several schools here have taken efforts to make arrangements so that students keen on chess can watch at least a game of the Championship directly. AR Ramanathan, correspondent of Dolphin matriculation school, said that it was a great effort on the part of the state government to hold the Championship in Chennai. “The event has kindled interest in chess among many students and they are eagerly following the games,” he noted. The school has been giving a lot of thrust on chess. It sponsors all the trophies given to the winners of the tournaments organised by the state chess association.

M Thirunagalingam, chess coach of the school, lauded the state government’s efforts in organising school-level competitions ahead of the championship. “Such promotional steps taken by the government have indeed helped. The government also mandates holding of chess tournaments in schools regularly. It will certainly help in creating grand masters and competent players in chess,” Thirunagalingam.

However, school authorities are disappointed that they can send only limited number of students to watch the tournament due to restrictions in ticket booking. Many students wanted to go for the Championship, but the complications in booking tickets discouraged us, a school correspondent said.

Donald James Moir, a UK national teaching chess in Keren schools, said Indian students find chess more engaging. “They show lot of interest in the game and learn quickly. Indian children are serious about learning the nuances of the game,” he remarked.

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