Chess, Dosa And Vada, The 44th Chess Olympiad Has It All

Chess, Dosa and Vada, the 44th Chess Olympiad has it all

Van der Velde’s social media posts even elicited a response from Prime Minister Modi.

Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu:

The battle for the brain is on here in the 44th Chess Olympiad and foreign players including the players demonstrate their prowess on the board and also try and enjoy the local cuisine.

According to Geert van der Velde, chief executive officer (CEO) of Chessable, an e-learning platform to master the game, it was his first time in India and eating a banana leaf was a very enjoyable experience for him.

“Well, I was not new to Indian cuisine, but already a fan. Ever since I discovered Indian cuisine, I have really enjoyed it. But of course, this was my first time in India, I had never tasted authentic Indian food before those in India.

“What was completely new to me was eating with my fingers. I didn’t know this was the traditional way of eating in India. I have eaten in Ethiopian restaurants before where this is the custom. But I had never eaten Indian food from a banana leaf and it was a very pleasant experience,” Van der Velde told PTI.

His Twitter post “Loved the food so much I went back and brought the whole team…” went viral and saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi share it, saying “India’s culinary diversity is legendary. You’ll find a dish for every occasion. I’m glad to see you enjoying Chennai and exploring the city.”

Van der Velde was pleasantly surprised to see the Prime Minister’s response to his tweet, saying: “Of course I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the Honorable Prime Minister Modi shared my photo during a meal with my colleagues at the Adyar Ananda Bhavan in Mahabalipuram. ”

He went on to say that “the richness of the flavors of the dishes here in Chennai is very special. There is a lot of depth in the flavour.”

“Although I have to admit that I probably haven’t developed enough of a palette yet to fully appreciate this kind of deeply spiced food. But I hope with time I will appreciate it even more than I already do. It’s clear to me now that I only got to taste a very small part of all the fantastic dishes that Indian cuisine has to offer,” he added.

Chessable’s CEO went on to say, “And I have to say I’m kind of laughing at myself for sharing that photo now that it’s gone viral. Totally unexpected but a pleasant surprise.”

He and his team had tried the masala dosa, vada and gobi manchurian and liked it too, although it was “a bit spicy” apart from a variety of fried rice. He has tasted the local food at the location as well as hotels and restaurants in the locality.

Van der Velde said the Olympiad was a great opportunity to come to India and interact with so many people, including the players.

“…it’s also a great opportunity for us to interact with them while we’re here. It’s a wonderful event. The best chess event, in my opinion,” he added.

The Spain-based Dutchman has since tried several dishes and uploaded them on social media, getting recommendations on what to try. “I have a list of dishes I’d like to try,” says Van der Velde, who has become a fan of the local cuisine.

Meanwhile, players from abroad also feel at home with the hospitality and food. The dosa seems to be a hit with the foreigners here for the Olympiad.

Several players have posted on social media about the food items they have enjoyed. Jersey’s Tallulah Roberts posted on Twitter “dosa is tasty” while a few others echoed similar views.

Georgia women’s team captain Davit Jojua said “the food here is good”, adding that he ate mostly fish, while Iranian GM Pouya Idani said “the quality of the food was generally very good” .

Meanwhile, chefs at the hotels where the participants are housed said they were given specific instructions on the menu with a focus on European dishes and told to keep the food less spicy!

“Happy to help”

Volunteers have been one of the reasons for making the Olympiad run smoothly. Some 400 of them have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Prateek Mohan, volunteer responsible for the event, said, “We assist in almost every area.”

“There are about 150 volunteers at the venue. From the hall, assisting the arbitrators, manning the gates to make sure no one brings electronic gadgets into the halls… We also have volunteers in the media center and the exhibition space,” Prateek Mohan, a state-level chess champion during his school days, told PTI.

There are volunteers on the transport team, who make sure that the players reach the venue well in advance (games start at 3 p.m. every day), he said.

He said a lot of thought was given to the selection of the volunteers, who were chosen after screening. There were also criteria such as knowledge and interest in chess and getting vaccinated.

Importantly, it was decided that the volunteers should be in the 18-30 age group, although there are some exceptions, he added.

In the run-up to the Olympiad, the selected volunteers followed a training course for about twenty days.

Interestingly, there are people from different walks of life who have volunteered to participate in the sport’s showpiece.

He said there were engineers, lawyers, CAs, doctors, including dentists, apart from chess arbitrators and coaches. The love of chess has brought them together, to help, at the Olympiad.

“It’s been an interesting and enjoyable experience for me. I hope it’s the same for others. When you’ve been volunteering for years, you get a sense of it. It’s a unique opportunity,” he agreed.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.