India's chess federation seeks support for Commonwealth games

MUMBAI: The annual Commonwealth Chess Championships will be held in Mumbai from 19 April 2003 for a period of 10 days. More than 30 grandmasters (GMs) and 40 international masters (IMs) from over 58 countries will be participating in the contest which has a prize money of around Rs 1 million.

The Maharashtra Chess Association (MCA) will be responsible for organising the mega event. The association is looking for a total sponsorship of Rs 1.5 million for acquiring the sponsorship rights. It has approached software companies, soft drink companies and consumer durable companies.

For electronic coverage, MCA has plans to approach several sports channels. The national broadcaster Doordarshan, however, has access to the rights and the other channels can come in only if DD exercises its right of refusal.

MCA chairman RM Dongre says: "It is a great opportunity for advertisers. India has bagged the distinction of hosting the games. We are planning to set up kiosks all over the city of Mumbai to enable more people to participate. We are already talking to advertisers, sports channels and Internet companies for acquiring the rights of sponsorships."

MCA has ensured the participation of Indian chess stars such as Sasikiran who won the National 'A' championships; National 'A' second ranked teenager Harikrishna; National 'A' third ranked D Barua; and Koneru Hampi (the teenage prodigy who is ranked amongst the Top 10 in the world) in its participant list.

Dongre adds that advertisers will definitely get mileage as the national and international media will cover the event.

The MCA also has plans to ensure that the event is incorporated in the International Open in order to encourage more internationally renowned chess players to participate in the contest and win prizes. However, these players will not be allowed to vie for the Commonwealth title - contestants who are citizens of Commonwealth countries will be allowed to bid for the same.

Media experts stated that the Internet rights are a lucrative proposition because chess contests evoke a lot of interest in the online domain. Software companies such as Wipro and Infosys have associated themselves with chess contests primarily due to the intellectual nature of the game.

Sports marketing seems to be the rise and non-cricket sports are staking their claims for advertising spends!

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