NYT: India swoons over its chess champ

8/10/2010 – It's every chess player's dream: girls gathered in a school auditorium, beaming with pride and nervous with anticipation, waiting to meet the star of their dreams. Not from Hollywood or Bollywood, but from the chess world: Viswanathan Anand. The World Champion has joined the Olympic Gold Quest movement in his country – and is tweeting on Twitter. Vishy-news.

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India swoons over its chess champ, and even the game

By Vikas Bajaj

The girls gathered in a school auditorium here on a recent Saturday were beaming with pride and nervous with anticipation. They would soon have a chance to meet the star of their dreams: Viswanathan Anand. “I want to be the next Vishy,” declared Chetna Karnani, 16, referring to Mr. Anand by his nickname. “I practice four hours every day.”

Mr. Anand is no Bollywood heartthrob or pop singer. The idol the girls were swooning over was an unassuming, bespectacled, 40-year-old world chess champion. Mr. Anand, who has held the world title for three years, appears to have earned the fame that India usually reserves for movie stars, cricket players and politicians. The girls had come to school on a Saturday with the hope of playing a game with him.

When he arrived with a retinue of four bodyguards to protect him from getting mobbed, the star-struck students sheepishly sought his autograph and peppered him with questions about his last title match, against the Bulgarian Veselin Topalov.


Vishwanathan Anand joins Olympic Gold Quest

Reigning World chess champion Viswanathan Anand on Friday joined the Board of Directors of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), a "movement" initiated by billiards ace Geet Sethi to support the country’s elite sportspersons and potential young talent. “I am quite honoured to join the Board of OGQ. As a sportsperson, it is nice to join my fellow sportspersons in making India a sporting and Olympic nation. Our upcoming sportspersons can learn a lot from our experience and we in turn can provide them a platform for excellence. I am quite excited in taking this initiative forward and making sports and excellence a part of our mind set," Anand said in a statement.

Making the announcement, Sethi, the multiple world billiards champion, said, "Viswanathan Anand is quite simply the greatest sportsman India has ever produced. His class and consistency in every format of the game make him a true role model for all Indian sportsmen. We are very proud to have him actively supporting the Olympic Gold Quest movement."

The list of OGQ supported sportspersons includes World No. 2 badminton player Saina Nehwal, shooter Gagan Narang and boxer Marykom, besides some talented youngsters. "It is not just about funding, but also providing a support system for the elite sportspersons like timely medical help and equipment. For instance, we have provided top class equipment for PT Usha’s school of athletics and also specialized gear to Gopichand’s badminton academy in Hyderabad where Saina Nehwal trains,” said Rasquinha.

The OGQ takes on board sportspersons after carefully evaluating and researching the credentials and also taking expert opinion on potential. “Once they are on board with OGQ, we provide whatever support the athletes wants and also closely monitor the progress, all leading up to the 2012 and 2016 Olympics,” he added.


Look who's tweeting – yes, it is really Vishy the King, with a cartoon by R. K. Laxman, India's greatest cartoonist in is login. He wanted his account to be "Vishy Anand", but found that "some guy is having a nice time with it." As you probably know Twitter has a character limit of 140 – postings cannot be longer than that. Watch Anand, like everybody, inch his way to the limit.

gave a simul in Bilbao... drew with a 80 year old man.
Guess grey in chess is all about the cells!!
[ 9:12 AM Aug 1st, 98 characters]

this is a cartoon by R.K.laxman , someone who has
made me laugh ... everyday
[ 12:14 PM Aug 4th, 76 characters]

Will be in Mainz soon.. 10 jackets are always
special. this time no play... just chill
[ 6:34 PM Aug 4th, 86 characters]

thanks everyone. I wanted vishy anand but some guy is having
a nice time with that.thought king would seal it!!
[ 11:14 AM Aug 6th, 113 characters]

...you want to make the moves, you feel some tension but
your hands are tied..but the open will be extremely tough
[6:56 AM Aug 7th, 115 characters]

finished my simul in mainz.. 40 boards was tough. now i get to
watch the big guys in action. watching them play is surreal...
[ 6:55 AM Aug 7th, 125 characters]

Koneru humpy played a good event but two unfortunate losses hope
tomorrow goes well. she has shown a lot of tenacity in this event . [133 characters]

Actor Rahul Bose welcomed the Indian Grandmaster to Twitter tweeting: "One of the greatest sports champions of all time and an ace human being, Viswanathan Anand is on twitter." With this Twitter account we can also say the rumour that Anand is an overly private person has been thoroughly refudiated [inside joke]. You can follow the World Champion on Twitter here.


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