KARACHI: International Master Mahmood Lodhi, currently Asia’s chess champion and a 14-time national title-holder, is hard pressed to find sponsors for his participation at the World Championships starting on November 9 in Italy.
Lodhi, who believes he can finish at least among the top three, qualified for the mega event after winning the Asian Championships in Iran last week with seven victories and two draws to his name.
“I’m in good form and come fresh off my Asian Championship victory, so I know I stand a credible chance of winning the World Championships. If not that, I’m confident that at least a top-three finish is within my reach.”
However, he emphasised that he does not have enough personal funds for boarding and lodging in Italy, while the Pakistan Chess Federation (PCF) is also short on money.
“I’ve done my bit by winning the Asian Championship, for which the Punjab Sports Board funded my trip,” said Lodhi. “But Italy will be expensive, and I honestly don’t know how I will manage to go, so I’m hoping to rope in some sponsors soon.”
Lodhi explained that he trains for the game daily for at least six hours, and sometimes the sessions go up to 18 hours as well. “I’ve worked hard for this game my whole life and still do,” he said.
The 54-year-old has also applied to the World Chess Federation (FIDE) to earn the coveted Grandmaster title to become the country’s only player holding the prestigious distinction.
To become a Grandmaster, a chess player one must achieve two or more Grandmaster norms (high level of performance) in events covering a minimum of 27 games. Lodhi already has two of the required norms, and participation in the World Championships will pave his way towards getting the required ‘Elo’ rating for the Grandmaster title.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2015.