For a city that's known to fall asleep early, Chennai is wide awake at 11:30 pm on Wednesday. Around 300 people, some with toddlers clinging onto them, gather to celebrate the vibes on the iconic Napier Bridge.

The bridge - more than 150 years old - was recently painted in a black and white chequered pattern and is the city's newest selfie spot.

The buzz is all about the 44th Chess Olympiad, which Chennai - rather, its neighbouring seaside town of Mahabalipuram - is hosting. 

It's India's first Olympiad - the equivalent of a FIFA World Cup in chess, if you may - and the city has shed its staid, conservative image for festivity.

Apart from the prestige, the Olympiad is huge in terms of its scale: around 2000 players from 188 countries. The who's who of world chess - Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Mariya Muzychuk - are all gathered in Mahabalipuram.

Chennai is India's undisputed chess capital - Tamil Nadu is home to 26 of the 74 Indian Grandmasters - so the branding for the event is everywhere. 

Thambi, the mascot, finds himself plastered all across the city and has been the subject of many memes. He does, after all, look like an Indianised version of Netflix's BoJack Horseman in a veshti-sattai (dhoti and shirt).