CHENNAI: With the World Championship just about two months away, it remains to be seen how far the conduct of the highly-billed 12-game affair between local boy and current champion Viswanathan Anand and Norwegian world number 1 Magnus Carslen will go to alleviate the state of chess in the country.
The championship will be held in Chennai from November 7 to 28.
In stark contrast to other parts of the country, chess has a strong following in this southern city, primarily because of the presence of Anand. In fact, the unassuming world champion did not shy away from taking some credit for the growth of the sport in this part of the world.
“It’s a big moment that India and especially my home town will play host to one of chess biggest events ever. It’s a sense of personal pride to see chess grow and in a way I had a role in it,” says Anand.
The last time a World Championship match was held in the country was in 2000, with the first six games being held in New Delhi and the remaining six taking place in Tehran.
A chess enthusiast herself, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa has granted Rs 29 crore for the conduct of the event, an amount that most critics would say could have been gainfully used in more pressing avenues.
While it would be bordering on the hypothetical to assume that the November match will bring about a sea change in the affinities of a cricket-crazy nation, it is all the same heartwarming to witness a rather niche sport in the country taking a giant leap to the future.