THE FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championships are expected to boost the game’s profile in Qatar, but Qatar Chess Association Secretary Mohammad Al Medaikhi said it was easier said than done.
“It’s not easy to attract new players and fans to the game in Qatar,” Al Medaikhi said. “We’re doing our bit to promote it at schools. We also have our training centres where young Qatari boys and girls are taught the nuances, but it’ll take some time to make it popular.”
Al Medaikhi, who is also Qatar’s first Grandmaster, thanked star players Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand for competing in the tournament.
For the first time a world chess championship is being held in the region.
“It’s a high-profile event because of the presence of Carlsen and Anand. Everybody around the world would want to see big stars. Their participation will raise the competition’s standard and profile,” he added.
However, former world classical champion Vladimir Kramnik, who won silver in blitz in Berlin last year, is a notable absentee. He was the only player other than Carlsen to remain unbeaten in the rapid format.
Others missing in action include 2013 world blitz champion Le Quang Liem, reigning European blitz champion Dmitry Andreikin, blitz world No.1 Ding Liren and world No.2 Fabiano Caruana.