Europe Echecs – Anand goes Bollywood

by ChessBase
12/9/2008 – The latest issue of the French chess magazine Europe Echecs is devoted to the triumph of Anand in Bonn and the new development of chess in India. The cover itself is quite spectacular – it is designed in the special style of Bollywood movie posters and shows the World Champion Vishy Anand, the “Tiger of Madras”, and his wife Aruna. Here are some extracts.

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From Sissa to Anand

Chess in India: religion of chess starts up!

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Production details

Genre: Chess at the highest level
Movie type: Epic World Championship
Theme: Gentlemen sometimes turning into tigers or wolves
Director: Josef Resch UEP
Main Cast: Winner of multiple Chess Oscar Anand, Aruna, former World Champion Kramnik from Russia, German manager Carsten Hensel
Film director: Aruna & the “Fab Four” IGM Nielsen, Kasimdzhanov, Wojtaszek and Ganguly
Screenwriters: Aruna & Vishy Anand
Run Time: eleven rounds and nearly fifteen centuries
Producer: Europe Echecs
Included as bonus: From the origins of Chess in India to Anand and nowadays with youngsters Gupta, Harika, Negi and all young Indians covered with gold during world Junior and Youth championships 2008. The legend of Sissa. Annotated games by Anand and his second Nielsen + Negi. Exclusive interviews with Humpy and Ashok Alexander. Appearances of IGM Harikrishna and Indian journalist from Mumbai Manisha Mohite.
Cover photo ChessBase

Interview Ashok Alexander – Extract

Ashok Alexander lives in New Delhi, India. He’s a chess amateur with an Elo rating of 2236, and has known Vishy Anand since he was eleven years old. Ashok is the Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s India AIDS Initiative since April 2003.

“I met him during the national championship I was playing in 1983. He was a very small boy, and at that age it was clear he was a prodigy. But I think no one in that time would have said he will end up with the title of World Champion. There is something very interesting when a few years later, I think he was fifteen, and he was playing in Hong Kong in the Asian championships. I just said: “Vishy, what do you want to become in Chess?” And he looked at me and said “World Champion!” That was very amazing this response because India didn’t have a single grandmaster at that time.”

Interview Humpy – Extract

World number two female player Koneru Humpy was born in the State of Tamil Nadu, just like Anand…

“I work with the oil company ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) as Deputy Manager. I didn’t study for that, it’s only because of chess I got this. In fact I was first under level but then I got promotions and now I’m Deputy Manager. If I reach my goals in chess I will be promoted. They support me when I play in international events like Wijk aan Zee. It depends up on the conditions I get in the tournament. If I don’t get conditions they pay my expenses. It’s a job so every month I get a salary. It’s the top oil company in India. There are other chess players working for the company. It’s a big team with Sasikiran (2694), Sandipan Chanda (2579), Neelotpal Das (2477), Konguvel Ponnuswamy (2463), Lanka Ravi (2371) and Koshy Varugeese (2284). I have to wear their logo whenever I play and I have to play two petroleum sports meets each year: a team event and an individual section.”

Note: we have been reminded by numerous Indian readers that Humpy was born in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, which is a neighbouring state to Anand's Tamil Nadu.

Parimarjan Negi – Extract

Parimarjan is fifteen and, at the age of 13 years and seven months became the second youngest grandmaster in history.

"Since Vishy Anand's ascent to the top, chess has been steadily gaining popularity in India. Until just a few years ago, a medal or two in World Youths was the best we could achieve. Now, though, that has changed, along with the growing popularity of chess, there has also been considerable increase in corporate support for young players in India. For instance I have been sponsored by the TATA group for last few years. And with that now Indians are also getting many more opportunities to come and play strong events in Europe. And I guess with a billion people, there's got to be talent somewhere."

Sissa, the purported inventor of chess

According to a popular myth chess was invented by a Brahmin called Sissa, who made up the game in order to teach his king that he could not rule without the help of his subjects. The king asked Sissa what reward he wanted for such a fine game, and he replied: one grain of rice for the first square of the board, two for the second, four for the third, eight for the fourth, and so on to the 64th square. That number turns out to be 18,445,744,073,709,551,615 grains, which in normal language is 18 billion billion grains, weighing around 450 billion tons – more than the current world production (400 million tons per year) for over 1000 years.

The first treatise of chess with occidental rules titled “Essays on Chess” was published in India two centuries ago by Trevangadacharya Shastree – in Mumbai 1814.


Prof. Nagesh Havanur of Mumbai, India wrote us: "The author of the treatise was Thiruvenkatacharya Shatri, a scholar from Tirupati, South India. He was asked to write this book by his royal patrons, Peshwas of Pune. The book describes briefly several variants of chess: Hindustani (Indian), Vilayati (Western or the present international system), Dakshinatya (South Indian) and even the Chinese system. It was translated into English and published with the title Essays on Chess by M.D.Cruz. In the days of the Raj the British just could not get the Indian names right. Hence, the distortion of the author's name. The title loosely translated, would read : A collection of chess gems. In fact it is a collection of chess problems with several mating tasks. More information on this subject can be gleaned from V.D.Pandit, an Indian chess historian based in Mumbai. He wrote two articles in Chess Mate, the Indian chess magazine way back in 1985.

In Chess Notes No. 4715 Prof. Havanur adds:

The name of the author should be Thiruvenkatacharya Shastri. 'Trevangadacharya' is an improbable name, as it has no etymology to speak of. In India the custom is to name children after gods. Thiruvenkatesha, or Shri Venkatesha, is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It appears that the author was a Tamil Brahmin. Hence, the Tamil prefix Thiru, which forms part of his name. It is customary to address Brahmins, or members of the priestly class, with respect, so they are called acharyas in the South. A Shastri (not Shastree) is a scholar who has mastered holy books, i.e. shastras. The title of the Sanskrit book should be Vilasa Manimanjari. The word Vilasa indicates pleasure or enjoyment. Manimanjari means a collection of precious stones, such as pearls or gems. Roughly translated, the title is "collection of chess gems for pleasure"

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