Countdown for IIFL 4 begins!
IIFL is now a household name among the chess fraternity of India, thanks for the unflinching support from the IIFL Private Wealth - the one company which has become synonymous with chess in India. And now this grand event is a part of the 'Great Indian Chess Tour'. Pick any sport and you will always find a company backing it up financially to improve its infrastructure and standard. In chess, we have seen IIFL doing the same from the last three years. They have set a new standard and introduced their own flagship event, the Under-13 Championship, which is now the richest tournament for children in the world. Once again, the IIFL International is here and is all set for its 4th edition which is much bigger than the last and with a new grand venue. In this article, Tournament Director, Praful Zaveri tells us about the forthcoming instalment of the event while also looking back at his experience from the previous editions.
IIFL Wealth chess is just a 3-year old baby. However, it is literally putting on pounds beyond my expectations and also of those connected with this event! With a modest participation of just 200 players in the inaugural year, the number climbed to 650+ players from 31 countries in season 3. And now, as the countdown for season 4 begins, we expect the numbers to cross the magical 1000!
The success of an international chess event depends on the benefits it extends to the chess fraternity and, we at IIFL Wealth Chess believe in innovating ideas for the overall growth and progress of chess in India.
Our flagship event is Mumbai Junior (Under-13) Chess Tournament, which is turning out to be a platform for budding talents. A lot of questions were put forth for the introduction of this category and I had no answer to my critics for the logic behind introducing U-13. Looking back after 3 editions, I really feel proud that my decision was spot on! Of the 3-champions we have had, 2 of them - Raunak Sadhwani and Gukesh have become full-fledged IMs and Pranav V also has an IM norm!! I am of the firm belief that few years down the line, we would definitely see an IIFL U-13 champion, emulating Anand! (Amazingly, Anand is the Patron of this event!).
Already billed as 'World's Richest Tournament' for children with a prize fund of INR 10.00 Lakhs, it has now expanded its horizon by offering free entry with accommodation to all the Indian National Champions of 2018 in U7/U9/U11/U13. A similar facility has also been extended to the World Cadets Champions 2018 in U8/U10/U12 category.
As for the Grandmasters event in India, a huge amount of money is being spent but the returns in terms of IM/GM norms are by far and few. This is now one of the biggest concern for all the Indian organizers and, as such, I have taken a harsh decision of restricting the participation of Indian players to players above 2100. However, I am sanguine that it will turn out beneficial to the norm aspirants. With 'Accelerated Pairings' and higher average rating, we are bound to see norms galore! This INR 15 Lakh prize money event has already attracted the cream of chess talents across the globe.
To ensure that IIFL Wealth Mumbai International Chess Tournament has an avenue for all the chess players, I have introduced an 'Open' event with a modest prize fund of INR 3 Lakhs for all the players - either rated or unrated. And, we also see a debut of 'Blitz' chess tournament this year! The exciting part is that the Blitz event has been scheduled after 9.00 pm on New Year's eve so that we can herald 2019! As IM Sagar Shah has put it, "It's not a chess tournament but a festival!"
On the organization front, Indian Chess School has joined hands with South Mumbai Chess Academy (SMCA) to organize meaningful chess events. The team is now bigger and equipped to host an event of any magnitude.
As for the venue, we have moved our event to the heart of the city at the World Trade Centre - a sprawling 25,000 square feet arena, which will raise the comfort levels of the players and all connected. Welcome to the Gateway of India!
About the Author
FI Praful Zaveri is the founder of Indian Chess School Academy. He is a popular trainer in Mumbai and also the author of the critically acclaimed beginners' manual 'The Chess Course'. His vision is to build the chess culture in his hometown Mumbai as well as India and help the country produce many more grandmasters in future. The IIFLW chess festival is his brainchild.