MPL Foundation has agreed to sponsor the All India Chess Federation over the next five years in a deal worth Rs. 1 crore, it was announced on Thursday. The online gaming and betting enterprise has become the first ever corporate to sign a long term sponsorship agreement with India’s principal chess body, following a major boom experienced by the sport in recent times.
The sponsorship amount will be increased by 20% each year, culminating in a total worth of a crore rupees. MPL Foundation will mainly feature as the title sponsors of all national championships held in the country across different age categories, from Under-7 upwards.
The news comes as a major boost for Indian chess, which has experienced a significant expansion in supporters during the COVID-19 lockdowns. The leading contributing factors of the same have been the release of the popular Netflix show ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, along with several renowned streamers in the social media world resorting to streaming chess in the pandemic.
"We have huge plans for the sport in the country. This is one of the first steps in the direction. We are committed to keep working for the betterment of chess with the vision of making India the number one chess-playing nation in the world,” stated Dr. Sanjay Kapoor, President of the AICF as reported by The Times of India.
Having taken office in January 2021, along with a whole new team including Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan, the leading men at AICF have taken great efforts to reform the game in the sport. Following India’s gold medal finish in 2020 FIDE Online Chess Olympiad, they ensured the team got a luxurious stay for the 2021 edition with proper playing arrangements including a stable internet connection among other amenities. A relief fund for the chess fraternity and a welfare fund of Rs 50,00,000 for players and arbiters for emergency assistance has also been established to help deal with COVID-19. The arrangements have certainly paid dividends, with a bronze medal at the Olympiad followed by a silver at the FIDE Women’s World Team Championship in Spain, the country’s first ever podium finish in the history of the tournament.