From Kamal Haasan's enthralling voice to Lydian's magical music: Mind-blowing opening ceremony of Chess Olympiad!

The packed arena of Jawaharlal Nehru indoor stadium in Chennai has gone out of this world as the city has unveiled a mind-blowing opening ceremony to a historical Chess Olympiad that will be held from July 28 to August 10. The opening ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi, Union Ministers Anurag Thakur and L Murugan, state ministers and thousands of participants and dignitaries. 

The ceremony has begun a little before 6 pm on Thursday and the visuals from the arena have guaranteed us that the chessers from across the world would have awe-struck by the impressive stretch of performances and friendly hospitality. While the governments have made the arrangements, the performances at the ceremony were conceptualized by director Vignesh Shivan. The event was also attended by celebrities including Rajinikanth and Vairamuthu.

The event has turned out to be a world of art with electrifying music, magnifying art, and astonishing performances that had surely left the players from the other countries with excitement. Ahead of Prime Minister Modi's arrival, Chief Minister MK Stalin took the stage and his silk shirt and dhoti turned heads. The students of Tamil Nadu led each team with a placard denoting their country. The event had played the Chess Olympiad anthem composed by A R Rahman.

While A R Rahman didn't take part in the event as he is currently on his US tour, his absence was taken over by young musician Lydian Nathaswaram who took the arena into his word with his magical music as he played the piano by closing his eyes.  Besides Rajinikanth, several foreign dignitaries were seen enjoying the music of this young prodigy and after Prime Minister Modi arrived in the arena, MK Stalin had felicitated Modi with a miniature of the Sun Temple in the monumental Mahabalipuram, where the event will be hosted. 

It was indeed Kamal Haasan's evening as though the legendary actor didn't appear in the event in person, he was present through his voice that enthralled the audience in and out of the arena. While the artists performed the traditional Tamil dances, Tamil culture, and the Tamil civilization, Kamal Haasan's voice-over gave more life to the performances, which had certainly amazed the visitors. Popular singer Dhee has performed the super-hit song 'Enjoy Enjaami' while the organizers have screened a handful of iconic places in Tamil Nadu. 

In the opening ceremony that lasted for over two hours, five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand has handed over the Olympiad torch to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin. The torch was then handed over to young Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa and others at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. Inaugurating the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed the packed arena.

In his address, the Prime Minister said, "Tamil Nadu is chess powerhouse of India. Tamil Nadu is home to the finest minds, vibrant culture, and the oldest language in the world, Tamil. I welcome you all to the 44th Chess Olympiad being held in India. The most prestigious tournament in chess has come to India, the home of chess. The 44th Chess Olympiad has been a tournament of many firsts and records. This is the first time the Chess Olympiad is being held in the place of origin of chess, India. It is coming to Asia for the first time in 3 decades."

Quoting a Tamil couplet of Thirukkural about hospitality, Modi further said, "It has the highest ever number of countries participating. It has the highest ever number of teams participating. It has the highest number of entries in the women’s section. The first ever Torch Relay of the Chess Olympiad started this time. I am glad to share that there has never been a better time for sports in India than the present. India had its best-ever performances in the Olympics, Paralympics and Deaflympics. We achieved glory even in sports where we had not won earlier."

"India’s sporting culture is becoming stronger due to the perfect mix of two important factors. The energy of youth and enabling environment. In sports, there are no losers. There are winners and there are future winners. I wish all the teams and players gathered here the very best for the 44th Chess Olympiad", the Prime Minister added. Chess Olympiad for chessers is like Olympics for athletes and participating in this indoor festival would be crucial for every chess player from across and beyond the borders. In this 44th Chess Olympiad, Chennai would be hosting over 2000 players and 340 teams from 188 countries.