A Conversation With: Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand
April 3, 2013, 2:30 am 

It would not be exaggerating to call Viswanathan Anand a chess legend. A five-time world chess champion, he is also the winner of six Chess Oscars, an annual award given to the world’s most outstanding player, and the only player in the history of the game to have won the World Championships in all three formats (classical, knockout and rapid).

Mr. Anand is also the first recipient of the highest sporting honor for an Indian, the Rajiv Gandhi Kel Ratna award, which he received for the calendar year 1991-92.

In addition to his game, the Chennai native has been actively involved in the N.I.I.T. Mind Chess Academy to promote chess across India, and his work has helped incorporate chess as part of the curriculum for almost 1.7 million elementary school students in India.

Mr. Anand, who divides his time between Chennai and Madrid, spoke to India Ink recently about his work with the academy and the role that it plays in empowering children across India.


Your partnership with N.I.I.T. for the Mind Chess Academy has been seen as a trailblazing combination. Why do you think chess has to be a part of every child’s life?


It is indeed a healthy activity since it trains certain skills, including problem solving and remembering patterns. It helps you to focus on a problem for a while and cope with other areas. There are studies which show that chess players become successful in their lives down the line, so it does have a positive impact on children in the long term also.


How did this academy initiative begin? Was it part of your grander vision for chess in India when you started it in 2002?


It started in 2002 when N.I.I.T., my sponsor, was excited about this idea since they could see a strong connect between education and chess. I wanted to give back to the game which has brought me so many laurels. We decided to focus on creating a mass movement in creating chess awareness in the country and create “Mind Champions” so that they could use it for the rest of their lives.

Our goal was to create this awareness, and if chess talent emerged as an offshoot, we were more than happy with this. Now there are about 1.7 million students in 17,000 schools who are exposed to Mind Chess Academy.

Full article here.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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