“People acknowledge India as a powerhouse”: Anand on Forbes India

by ChessBase
6/16/2023 – In a new article published on Forbes India, former world champion Vishy Anand reflects on how India has come to be recognised as a global chess powerhouse. Anand writes: “So, when I started the academy with Westbridge Capital, the idea wasn’t just to get Indians to play chess, but to see how we can get Indians to the very top”. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

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Getting Indians to the very top

Viswanathan AnadBefore I became India’s first Grandmaster (GM), the biggest barrier was probably mental. No one had become a GM and it had a climb Everest kind of feel to it.

In those days, it was much harder to be a GM, since you had to compete against other GMs to become a GM. And the world supply of GMs back then was far more limited. One had to organise special tournaments to play GMs, and those had a far stronger playing field than today. So, we had to take every chance we got.

I was fortunate to become a GM at a time when training wasn’t absolutely essential to becoming one. Computers didn’t exist back then. In 1987, after I won the World Junior, I saw the first database programme had appeared. And I got my first computer only after a couple of months after becoming the GM. Nowadays, training, coaching methods tilt the field a lot and you’re unlikely to become a GM unless you are able to invest in these things.

[...] I suspect that absolute acceptance of India’s prowess in chess came in the last 10 years, where more and more Indian youngsters were present in tournaments. And as these kids started to play top players and defeat them, especially in the last five to six years, people started to acknowledge India as a powerhouse. Even Magnus Carlsen, the world champion who has thrice been defeated by teenager R Praggnanandhaa, has said the next World Champion could probably be from India. Before, such statements would refer to me, now it refers to one of the others.

So, when I started the academy with Westbridge Capital, the idea wasn’t just to get Indians to play chess, but to see how we can get Indians to the very top. Because, by now, only that is aspirational. We’ve set our sights higher because once you have a World Champion, you can’t get too excited about achievements below that level.

Read the full article on Forbes India...

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