‘Sport has made it amongst youngsters’
MUMBAI, August 25, 2014
Updated: August 25, 2014 23:50 IST

A lot of good is happening to Indian chess. Recently, the Indian men’s team won the bronze medal in the 41st world chess olympiad held in Norway and young Vidit Gujrathi won the Lake Sevan Grandmasters chess tournament in Armenia; he is currently the joint leader in the Abu Dhabi Masters.

India’s medal-winning performance should warm the cockles of a vast chess-following community in India, and now they must be looking forward to the 19-year old Gujrathi emulating the likes of Viswanathan Anand, P. Harikrishna, Abhijeet Gupta, Koneru Humpy, D. Harika and Soumya Swaminathan, all of whom won the world junior chess championship (WJCC) for the under-20.

During his recent visit to Mumbai as brand ambassador of the WJCC to be held in Pune from October 5 to 20, Anand said that the WJCC reveals the probable future world champions as the likes of Russians Boris Spassky and Gary Kasparov emerged from this highly competitive tournament.

In an interview to The Hindu, Anand, who is set to face Norway’s Magnus Carlsen in the FIDE world championship in November, sounded confident of India’s ability to unearth more Grandmasters in future.

He was asked what he broadly makes of Indian chess, which has had 36 GMs since 1988 and 79 IMs. India is behind Russia, Ukraine, China, France, Armenia and Hungary with 245 titles.

Anand’s reply was: “One can say Indian chess, overall, has grown exponentially. In 1988, we had one GM. Now, we are one of the leading countries in the world of chess. And that, quite simply, was not the case back in the 1980s. On top of that, we are doing very well at the junior and sub-junior levels.

“We win a lot of medals in the under-14 and under-16 championships. That is why it is particularly wonderful that we are going to have the WJCC in Pune. The under-20 tournament, which is the world juniors, is a special event because, historically, it was always seen as the place where you identify the future world champions. So, we will see the cream of world juniors coming to India in October and playing. We have the third seed in Vidit Gujrathi.”Catching on

India’s first GM also feels that chess has caught on with the juniors and schoolchildren. “I would say it is very, very important that chess has made it amongst youngsters; and also in a lot of schools. In States like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, it is already part of the school curriculum. I sincerely hope that this would happen in Maharashtra as well; there is a lot of momentum here. At any rate, what is nice is that a lot of schools have taken to the game.”

Anand has been associated with NIIT’s Mind Champions Academy, which has in excess of one million students as members of close to 12,000 clubs across the country.

“I work with Mind Champions Academy, where we get lots of schools because of the evidence that chess trains a lot of qualities like memory, concentration, decision-making and all that. It serves the students in another area and is becoming very broad-based.”

After the reverse in the world chess championship match in Chennai last year, Anand rebounded quickly through the Candidates tournament to challenge Carlsen again this year; a good reason for attention to be riveted on chess and Anand.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com

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