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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XXI No. 19, January 15-31, 2012
Inspiring a crop of chess champions
By Sriram Subramaniam

India had its first Grand-master in 1987 when Viswanathan Anand won his first World Junior Championship. Ever since then, India has produced 24 Grandmasters 74 Inter-national Masters and, of course, a world phenomenon like Anand himself, who is a 5-time World Champion. Indian Chess is always equated with Anand; his legacy has inspired and triggered a revolution that is waiting to explode.

India is number six in the average ratings of top 10 players, with a rating of 2645 for all its players, reducing the gap with the legendary Russians to just 70 points. India came 2nd in World U16 Olympiad (ahead of the Russian). It came 3rd in the World Team Championship in the same year. The current Asian Junior Champion is an Indian. Adding to all this is the numerous World Youth Championship titles and the awards in the Youth championships across the continent and the world. All this has given credence to the fact that Indian chess is on a rise and is riding on the Anand effect.

Indian chess players of today have a role model to look upon, whether it is the likes of Krishnan Sasikaran (India's second highest rated player after Anand) or the upcoming youngsters. The presence of perfect role models such as a Tendulkar in cricket or a Roger Federer in tennis augurs well for the sport. Chess is no stranger to this logic either. Anand's involvement with the game in India with his numerous ventures, including the NIIT Academy, has propelled the game's popularity and his interactions with upcoming players have greatly motivated them to succeed.

Anand's stupendous achievements have raised the bar greatly for Indian chess world. A prime example is Parimarjan Negi. At 13 years, he became second youngest Grandmaster in the world. He is India's youngest Grandmaster, first in U-18 category in the world and sixth best Indian chess player with a rating of 2622. All this has been achieved before his 18th birthday, and yet magnitude of Anand's achievements is so large that it would take decades for young Negi to come closer to Anand's pedestal! The bar that Anand has raised keeps the young players on their toes and propels them to achieve more. No wonder you see a plethora of younger players relentlessly pushing their barriers to the limit to bring them closer to the bar that Anand has raised.

One of the highlights of the Anand effect is that it has provided India with a greater depth of world class chess players. The number of players rated above 2600 has increased significantly. By having the likes of Krishnan Sasikaran, Pendayala Harikrishna (a former World Champion in the age group level), P. Negi and S.S. Ganguly (a six-time National Champion), India has ensured that it's not a one man nation. Even in the women's game, the World No.1 (active) is an Indian, Koneru Humpy. She is the seventh best player in India (including the men's section!) and has numerous international titles to her credit.

Indian chess as a whole has evolved from a one man army to a group of world class players led by the King himself. Anand has done to Indian chess what Bjorn Borg did to Swedish tennis – unleash a factory of chess greats. (Courtesy: Industrial Economist)

I met Viswananthan Anand once. That was just after he had won the World Junior Chess title. I was in a bus at Valluvar Kottam when a voice said, "Oru Besant Nagar". I asked my co-passenger, "Do you recognise him." He said "no". The "Oru Besant Nagar" voice was that of Anand. Incredible, a world champ boarding a bus and no one even recognised him. And that too in blessed Chennai.

V. Pattabhi Ram

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In this Issue

Is conservation on right track?
Neglect threatening QMC building
Beach, bins & beauty
Krishnan entertains off the court
In the Fort & outside...
Walking about with
Sriram V.
Collecting our memories
'Curdrice cricket'
Dennis no 'menace' in Madras
Inspiring a crop of chess champions
Changing times
Fly away with them...
Children's focus during Madras Week

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan


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