MOSCOW, April 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Khanty-Mansiysk, a city in northern central Russia has been successfully leveraging chess to raise the city's and the surrounding region's profile, reports Chess News Agency. A city in Russia's oil and gas patch, Khanty-Mansiysk has been quite a boom town, with population tripling in the past 25 years. Taking advantage of its sub-arctic location and strongly continental climate, with long cold winters, Khanty-Mansiysk has become a Mecca for Alpine and Nordic skiing and biathlon since the late 1990s, holding top international and domestic tournaments. However, it was chess that propelled Khanty-Mansiysk to international fame.
"Khanty-Mansiysk hosted its first major international chess tournament – the World Chess Cup – in 2005," FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said, "featuring then-14 year-old Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen as one of competitors, some eight years before he won the World Champion's title. Just like the now-reigning World Champion, the city has come a long way since then, making chess an essential part of its culture and its daily life," Ilyumzhinov added. "The Khanty-Mansiysk – Yugra Autonomous Region was one of the first to implement the Chess in Schools program several years ago, and it became a good tradition in 2012 to open 'Chess Corners' at corporate offices, banks, and government agencies across the city and region."
The city unveiled the Yugra Chess Academy, Russia's first, in September 2010.
"So we opened the Yugra Chess Academy – an instant landmark and a green building – to welcome competitive chess players, students, and all chess enthusiasts in 2010, and the rest was history – in 2011, it accommodated nearly 30 top-level international chess tournaments and countless classes and chess other events," Khanty-Mansiysk Mayor and President of the Yugra Regional Chess Federation Vasily Filipenko said. "It has really paid off, helping to make our city a prime international chess destination. It was an excellent investment in the future of our city and our community."
The recent 2014 Candidates Tournament held at the Yugra Chess Academy in Khanty-Mansiysk, which pitted the world's top grandmasters for a chance to challenge the reigning world champion later this year. The tournament was widely covered by international media, and the tournament's website received more than 2,000,000 visits, with many enthusiasts following the games live, and many more catching updates of the tournament. This raised the host city's profile, making it one of the most popular search terms among international destinations in India, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
"It really put us on the map for many people out there," Governor of Yugra Natalia Komarova said. "Photos of Viswanathan Anand, who has won the 2014 Candidates, sitting in a reindeer sleigh and wearing an aviator hat have been published by major Indian newspapers, boosting the interest in our region in the world's second most populous country. This interest should translate into increased contacts between our region and India and make people there and elsewhere aware of what we have accomplished," the Governor added.
Khanty-Mansiysk is currently hosting the FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2014, which will last from April 9 through 21. This way, chess continues to help keep this northern city in the international spotlight, as a top sports venue and a fine example of a community that benefits from mind sports.
SOURCE Chess News Agency