ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s 10-strong national chess team, comprising the country’s top five male and five female players, are set to participate in the international chess Olympiad starting in Chennai, India next week. Newly elected members of the Chess Federation of Pakistan (CFP) informed media and stakeholders about this development at a press conference at the Punjab Sports Board (PSB) in the national hockey stadium in Lahore on Tuesday. CFP President Hanif Qureshi explained that in just over two months since the election of the new body, they have been able to conduct various tournaments including the national championship and the national junior championship. They have also sent national teams to international tournaments, including the west Asian championship where Pakistan was able to bag the bronze medal. Speakers also pointed out how chess suffered in the country over the last 30 years due to excessive corruption and nepotism, to the point that there were not tournaments in the country and the national team was unable to participate in international events; and local chess federation was eventually banned by the international chess federation (FIDE). Now, since the election two months ago, there is a concerted efforts to promote the game in the country. Already, the junior championship is being followed by choosing a national team to participate in various international events including World Junior Chess Championship in Sardinia, Italy in October, World U-16 chess Olympiad in Azerbaijan, Asian school championship in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the Asian youth championship in Bali, Indonesia. “We are not just investing in the players, we are also working to arrange sponsorships for professional coaches, which is extremely important for long term expansion and success of chess in Pakistan,” said CFP General Secretary Umar Khan. That is why the federation has also engaged an international grandmaster to coach the team, for the first time in its history. Finance Secretary Raja Gauhar, who has the responsibility to make sure that the federation has the funds to function, spelled out the initiatives and partnerships that CFP is pursuing. The national team will participate in the Olympiad in India alongside 190 other countries from July 28 to August 10, 2022. It will be led by the national champion, Fide Master (FM) Amir Karim. The team also participated at the press conference under the leadership of Amir, who, being the senior-most and strongest player in the country, expressed satisfaction with the new federation and hoped that the country would finally have an international grandmaster very soon.