WCh Chennai: Languages of India, and of chess

11/20/2013 – The World Championship press room is filled with journalists from all parts of India, and they are filing reports in a dozen different languages. The main Indian language is Hindi, spoken by over four hundred million people. But Chennai is in the middle of the Dravidian language family that is less closely related to Hindi than, let us say, Norwegian (both Indo-Aryan languages). We thought we would give you an impression of the local dialects.

Languages of India, languages of chess

By Frederic Friedel

The Constitution of India recognizes 22 languages as the official or "Scheduled Languages". The country has almost four hundred individual mother tongues, of which 30 are spoken by more than a million native speakers each, and 122 by more than 10,000. But there is not a single language that is spoken across the entire country. The official language of the Union Government is Hindi, while English is the secondary official language.

Hindi is spoken by over four hundred million people, mainly in the north, but it is not popular in the southern part of India. Similarly south Indian languages – Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam – are not understood by the people of northern India. This is because the major languages of the country belong to different language families: the Indo-Aryan languages, spoken by 73% of Indians, and the Dravidian languages, spoken by 24%.

The World Championship 2013 is being held in Chennai, which is the capital of Tamil Nadu, one of the two southern-most states of India. The language here is Tamil, although we have seen on outings with a Telugu-speaking guide (GM Harika Dronavalli – the subject for a later story) that many shopkeepers will understand remarks she makes in her native tongue. They will, however, always answer in Tamil, and she in turn will catch the gist of what they are saying.

Dravidian languages

The Dravidian languages are spoken mainly in southern India, the most populous being Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam. The distribution of this language family is nicely shown on the following Wikipedia map:

The Dravidian languages have defied all attempts to show a connection with other languages, including Indo-Aryan. It is a remarkable fact that there is a closer connection between Hindi or Marathi and English or Norwegian, than the connection between Hindi and Marathi to any of the languages spoken in the neighbouring (Dravidian) states. For us Europeans it is possible to catch phrases in spoken Hindi, but you cannot understand a syllable in pure Tamil or Telugu.

Here's a demonstration I sometimes use: I give a European the task of guessing which number between one and ten I recite in Hindi, e.g. teen, chaar, aht, nau, which most correctly identify as three, four, eight and nine. Then I repeat the same for Kannada (I was taught to count to ten by a little girl in Bangalore): muru, nalku, entu, ombhattu – they translate to the same numbers. Not a chance.

Languages in the press room

The World Championship press room is filled with journalists from all parts of India, and they are filing reports in a dozen different languages. I thought I would give you an impression of what these languages look like on paper, and also how they sound. You have seen the Hindi language summaries in our round reports, so we will leave that out. We start instead with a report in Marathi, an Indo-Aryan language, written by a friend we have met in different locations:

Kedar Lele is a sports enthusiast who is software engineer by profession. He has a passion for cricket, table-tennis, tennis and chess, sports he himself managed to play at competitive levels and attain levels of distinction in them. He wrote a book on Wimbledon in Marathi his mother-tongue, a book that has been given a place in the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis History Museum. Being an ardent chess enthusiast Kedar has covered various chess events such as the WCCh Bonn 2008, WCCh Sofia 2010, WCCh Moscow 2012, WCCh Chennai 2013, the Tata Steel Chess 2011-2013, the London Chess Classic 2010-2012 and Amber Blindfold & Rapid play, to name a few.

आनंद विरुद्ध कार्लसन - जागतिक बुद्धिबळ स्पर्धा 2013
केदार लेले (
चेन्नई)

चेन्नईत सुरू असलेल्या ५३व्या जागतिक बुद्धिबळ स्पर्धेतील आनंद विरुद्ध कार्लसन यांच्यातील स्पर्धेची आठव्या डावाची लढत 33व्या चालीनंतर बरोबरीत सुटली. आज पांढऱ्या मोहऱ्यांनी खेळताना कार्लसनने राजाच्या प्याद्याने सुरुवात केली आणि रॉय लोपेझ डावाच्या त्याच्या चालींना आनंदने बर्लिन बचाव पद्धत वापरण्याची तयारी दर्शविली. याच बर्लिन बचावाने माजी जगज्जेचा कास्पारोव्हलासुद्धा क्रॅमनिकने असेच नाकीनऊ आणले होते.

जागतिक बुद्धिबळ स्पर्धेच्या पाचव्या आणि सहाव्या फेरीत विश्वविजेत्या विश्वनाथन आनंदला पराभवाला सामोरे जावे लागले आहे. आव्हानवीर तरुण मॅग्नस कार्लसनची 5-3 अशी आघाडी तूर्ततरी निर्णायक ठरेल असे वाटत आहे. उद्याच्या विश्रांतीच्या दिवशी आनंद आणि त्याचे सहकारी आतापर्यंतच्या डावांचा आढावा घेतील. परंतु, त्यानुसार ठोस उपाययोजना करणे आनंदच्या गटाला शक्य झाल्यास आनंदला जगज्जेतेपद राखता येईल!

आता या प्रतिष्ठेच्या स्पर्धेत फक्त चारच डाव उरले आहेत. 21. नोव्हेंबर 2013 रोजी आनंद पांढऱ्या मोहऱ्यांनी खेळणार आहे आणि आनंद आक्रमक खेळून अजूनही काही चुका करतो का, याचीच वाट कार्लसन बघणार असे वाटते. या अवघड परिस्थितीतून आनंद कसा मार्ग काढतो याकडे साऱ्या जगाचे आणि विशेषतः भारतीय बुद्धिबळप्रेमींचे लक्ष लागले आहे.


The second is by Sabari Rajan, the sports correspondent of Metronation Chennai Television Limited, filing stories in Tamil for Thanthi TV, where you can also hear what the language sounds like.

எட்டாவது சுற்று முடிவுகள்

இதுவவரை நடந்த சுற்றுகளில் 2  தோல்விகள்  அடைந்த ஆனந்த் இன்றுகருப்புநிரக்க்காயகளுடன் ஆடினார்.

டிரா ஒன்றை மட்டுமே குறிக்கோளாகக் கொண்டிருக்கும்  கார்ல்சன், ஆனந்தை அவருடைய விருப்பமான 
ரய் லோபஸ்  முறையில் தனது ராஜாவுக்கு முன் இருந்த சிப்பாயை இரண்டுகட்டம் நகர்த்தி ஆட்டத்தை ஆரம்பித்தார்.

ஆனந்தும் அதேபோல ராஜாவுக்கு முன்னால் இருந்த சிப்பாயை நகர்த்தினார்.

நான்காவது நகர்தலிலிருந்து சிப்பாய், குதிரை ,பிஷப், ஆகியவற்றை மாற்றி மாற்றி வெட்டிக்கொள்ள ஆரம்பித்தனர்
..22 வது நகர்த்தலின்போது ஒரு ராணி ஒரு குதிரைஒரு யானை ஏழு சிப்பாய்கள் என இருவருமே சமமான

பலத்தில் இருந்தனர்.அடுத்தடுத்த ஐந்தாறு நகர்த்தல்களில் ராணிக்கு ராணி,யானைக்கு யானை குதிரைக்கு குதிரை 
என இருவரும் வெட்டி ஆடினார்.

    33 வது நகர்தலில் இருவரும் பரஸ்பரம் டிரா செய்ய சம்மதித்தனர்.

இரண்டு மணி நேரமே நடந்த ஆட்டத்தில் ஆனந்த் மீண்டும் டிரா செய்துகொண்டது ரசிகர்களுக்கு மிகுந்த ஏமாற்றமாக இருந்தது.

ஆனந்த் இரண்டு புள்ளிகள் பின்தங்கிய நிலையில் மொத்தம் மூன்று புள்ளிகளுடனும், பட்டம் பெரும் நம்பிக்கையுடன் 
கார்ல்சன் மொத்தம் ஐந்து புள்ளிகளுடனும் உள்ளனர்.

Finally another friend and esteemed colleague who writes in Malayalam, a language spoken predominantly in the state of Kerala. Originally Malayalam was a local dialect of Tamil, but over a thousand years it developed into a fully independent Dravadian language.

P.K. Harish is Chief Sub Editor with Malayala Manorama, one of the largest circulated dailies in India, with over two million copies everyday. He is based at Calicut, a port city in the state of Kerala, considered as one of the most beautiful parts of the country, with Malayalam as the common language. He is a career journalist, starting in 1997 with a features syndicate named `Newsline' and has evolved over the years as a sports journalist in his current job. He has been a former chess player, and a journalist specializing in sports. He writes about chess- tournaments, chess history, and chess trivia often. Harish is married to Nisha, and they have two sons, Akshay and Gautam, aged nine and three. He enjoys reading and cycling, when he is not writing. He likes fiction and poetry, in both his mother tongue Malayalam and English, as common with most of the serious readers in India.

– More impressions around the match will be provided by Frederic Friedel in Chennai in the next days –


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site, with special coverage on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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