Novel initiative by AICF to help chess community hit by COVID-19

Chennai: Extending financial assistance, mobilising a panel of doctors, psychiatrist and psychologists to provide medical/emotional online consultations, 24×7 helpline for members of chess community affected by Covid-19 are the novel initiatives taken by All India Chess Federation (AICF), a senior official said.

With Covid-19 pandemic spreading across the country, like many others chess players were also affected and in order to assist the affected players, the AICF has embarked upon the Checkmate Covid programme.

“We have started the initiative Checkmate Covid to provide financial, medical and emotional support to chess players,” Bharat Singh Chauhan, Secretary, told IANS.

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The initiative was officially launched on May 4 with global chess body with the participation of FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, AICF officials, industrialists/businessmen, five times World Chess Champion V. Anand, World No. 3 and No. 9 in the Women’s Chess K. Humpy and D. Harika, respectively, and other top Indian players like Vidit Santosh Gujrathi and B. Adhiban.

According to AICF, a sum of Rs 60 lakh has been raised till date under the Checkmate Covid initiative.

“The AICF has also contributed Rs 11 lakh for the initiative and will contribute more to bridge the shortfall if any. Already chess players and others are contributing for the fund,” Chauhan said.

On the corporate side Ashok Jain, Chairman of Jain Irrigation through his family and the company have committed Rs.11 lakh.

According to Chauhan, several state chess associations are also contributing for the Checkmate Covid fund.

The AICF will also approach the government institutions for priority vaccination of the players who are participating in international tournaments/championships.

An amount of Rs 500 will be reimbursed to the needy personnel of the chess community who get paid vaccination from private hospitals, under the new programme.

Chauhan said any member of the Indian chess community with FIDE identity number and registered with AICF for any of the 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 years can apply for financial assistance under the Checkmate Covid programme.

“We will also consider assisting old and poor members of the chess community,” Chauhan said.

Those seeking financial assistance should apply through the Nodal Officers who are majorly office bearers of state chess associations.

Queried about empaneling doctors for the programme, Chauhan thanking them, said: “Many of the doctors were chess players or parents of a chess player. Despite their other schedule, they have agreed to contribute their time to our initiative.”

Chauhan also thanked chess players like Anand, Humpy, Harika and others for agreeing to spare their time for this programme.

According to him, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of registered AICF members was about 100,000.

This number came down last year as there were no major chess activities and later went up after several online chess events were organised, Chauhan said.

A committee that is involved in Checkmate Covid initiative will come out with fund raising programmes, Chauhan said.

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