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National contracts and cash rewards for top players in AICF’s ₹65 crore blueprint

The All India Chess Federation (AICF) in its general body meeting, rolled out an eye-popping 65 crore budget and blueprint ‘for providing financial and institutional support to pro and grassroots level players’ and to popularise chess and take the game to every Indian household.

India’s 17-year-old D Gukesh made history as the first-ever teen winner of the Candidates to qualify for the World Championship.(PTI)

This comes a fortnight after India’s 17-year-old D Gukesh made history as the first-ever teen winner of the Candidates to qualify for the World Championship. The Candidates witnessed the highest-ever Indian representation, with five players in the field across Open and Women sections.

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Among the major challenges that the recently-elected AICF office bearers led by president Nitin Narang propose to address are: integration of chess into school curricula, introduction of chess e-learning in syllabus (chess in education), the identification and nurturing of talent, the strengthening of grassroots academies and training institutions, and the sustainability of the AICF.

The key initiatives outlined include:

National player contracts: AICF will introduce two-year contracts for national-level players from U-7 to U-19 age groups, disbursing funds ranging from 20,000 to 50,000. The players will promote chess through grassroots initiatives such as ‘Meet the Champions’ in educational institutions.

Cash rewards for top players: Cash rewards will be allocated to top 10 male and female Indian players based on their Fide rankings. The top five male and female players will receive 25 laks while those ranked between 6th and 10th will be rewarded 12.50 lakhs.

Supporting state associations: AICF will commit across three years — Year 1: 12,50,000; Year 2: 12,50,000; Year 3: 15,00,000 — with assistance allocated for prize money, chess development activities, and establishing offices. Quarterly seminars will be conducted for capacity building, covering topics like sponsorships and governance.

Women In Chess: Expanding the Smart Girl Program with a minimum of 50 annual events, each supported by a 100,000 grant. Further reinforcing this commitment, a 33% reservation for women in several key areas like certification for coaches and arbiters, participation of female arbiters in AICF-recognized events, and inclusion in the Campus Ambassador Program.

Incentivising Chess Content Creators: Collaborating with Youtubers, influencers, and streamers and fostering new creators through mentorship from established content creators to nurture a thriving community of chess content creators.

National Chess Awards and Development Conference: To honor exceptional coaches and players and concurrently bring together industry leaders and universities to advance chess through strategic workshops and discussions, recognizing significant contributions to both the game and societal development.

Corporate Chess League: Corporates will be allowed to host AICF-rated tournaments by becoming members. A minimum prize money will be set for AICF-rated events. Additionally, it plans to organize bilateral competitions with other nations to enhance chess diplomacy and elevate brand profile.

Chess Development Fund: To support initiatives such as trainer training programs, coach certification, and outreach efforts, including workshops and conferences. It aims to integrate chess into school curriculums and provide resources tailored to female players and various social segments.

Corporate partnerships: A management board, appointed by the AICF President, will be set up comprising experienced corporate professionals from various sectors. The AICF plans to collaborate with strategic partners to finance its programs and initiatives, aiming for governance excellence and long-term sustainability.

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