THE recently-concluded FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championships in Doha was a big boost for the game in the region.
The scrapping of 2016 edition of annual Qatar Masters due to lack of sponsorship had come as a big blow, but the rapid and blitz event more than made up for it.
It was another feather in the cap of QCA, which is trying to develop the game. In fact, having Grandmaster Mohammad Al Medaikhi as its secretary has helped the sport make inroads in Qatar.
In an exclusive interview with Doha Stadium Plus, Al Medaikhi spoke about the success of recent Worlds, women’s participation in it and the game’s future.
How does it feel to have organised the World Championships?
It was a dream come true. I always wanted to bring at least one World Championship to Qatar. Seeing the top men’s and women’s players in action in Doha meant a lot to me. We feel proud to have organised the World Rapid and Blitz Championships. I think we had one of the best FIDE tournaments in recent years.
Will such tournaments help popularise the sport in the country?
I’m hopeful big tournaments will help develop a chess culture in Qatar. Such events with so many world champions will attract media and fans. During the competition, some supporters even wanted to know the intricacies involved in the rapid and blitz format.
We also had 280,000 visitors on the official website with a huge number of hits from Norway and Qatar. A lot of youngsters in our country are keen to learn the sport. We just need to encourage them.
Will the Qatar Masters be held this year?
We’ll try to organise it this year, but for that we need to find sponsors. It’s a great tournament that provides perfect facilities for players. The chess fraternity misses this competition because it’s one of the strongest open events in the world. We need such competitions to develop the sport. We want to organise, maybe another World Championships, in the future.
Does the QCA have plans to organise more age-group tournaments?
The QCA is organising six tournaments every year for Under-16 boys and girls. We’re trying to build a young team that can represent Qatar in the future. It’s a long-term process. We need to be patient to achieve our goals.
How serious is the QCA in promoting girls’ chess?
It’s not easy to promote girls in any sport, but we’ve some women players who’re very serious about the game. We also have a few players who want to become arbiters. I think it’ll definitely help promote the game among girls because there’s a need for female coaches and administrators.