The Westbridge Anand Chess Academy will train five of India’s biggest talents

by Sagar Shah
12/22/2020 – Vishy Anand has ruled the number one spot in Indian chess for over three decades now. The five-time World Champion is now 51 years old and is still very much one of the best in the world. But Anand also wants to ensure that there are youngsters in India who rise quickly to the top of the world rankings in the years to come. It is with this objective in mind that the Westbridge Anand Chess Academy has been created. Nihal Sarin, Praggnanandhaa, Raunak Sadhwani, Gukesh and Vaishali are the five youngsters who received a fellowship and will be personally mentored by Vishy Anand.

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A brilliant chief mentor

What is Vishy Anand up to these days? Well, a lot of things, really! After the recent announcement of a biopic being made about him in Bollywood, the news came out that he has teamed up with Westbridge Capital to start a Chess Academy that will train the most talented youngsters in Indian chess.

Vishy Anand will be the chief mentor of the entire Westbridge Anand Chess Academy, and will train five strong young Indian talents — Nihal Sarin, R. Praggnanandhaa, Raunak Sadhwani, Gukesh and R. Vaishali. These five youngsters will receive a fellowship from the Academy. The program is supported by Westbridge Capital, a highly experienced investment firm.

Speaking to ChessBase India, Anand tells us as to how this idea came about:

I went to Bangalore to give a talk held by Westbridge. This was under 2 years ago. After the event, as I was leaving for the airport, Sandeep (Singhal) asked me if I would like to work with him in some way. After I came back to Chennai, we began communicating. If Westbridge wanted to support chess, this was an excellent way to start.

What was Anand’s inspiration?

I had three inspirations for such a plan.

  1. Olympic Gold Quest, which has a very similar concept
  2. Botvinnik Chess Academy
  3. Samford Fellowship

Vishy Anand

Vishy Anand has worked informally with these youngsters in the past 

Each year the players will be assessed based on their performances and improvement, and new players will be awarded fellowships. Anand will be supported in the academy by three of the seconds who have helped him in the past — Artur Yusupov, Sandipan Chanda and Grzegorz Gajewski.

Speaking to ChessBase India, Sandipan Chanda said

I was pleasantly surprised when Anand told me that he was going to start his academy and that he wanted me to join as a trainer. To me this means to get to know and work with our super talents closely as well as receiving continuous guidance from Anand himself. Looking forward to an enjoyable experience with our lovely juniors, Anand and the other trainers. And a big appreciation to the sponsors for supporting the project.

Vishy Anand, Sandipan Chanda

Vishy Anand with Sandipan Chanda in Saint Louis | Photo: V. Saravanan

The aim of the Westbridge Anand Academy

Nihal Sarin and Praggnanandhaa have already broken into the 2600 zone. They will be looking forward to making their way into the 2700 zone. Raunak Sadhwani and Gukesh are close to 2550, and breaking into 2600 would be their first aim. R. Vaishali is clearly not just the best junior in the country, but as of today she is the third highest-rated woman player in India behind Humpy and Harika. She clearly has huge potential and could very likely become the third Indian female player to be a full-fledged GM.

Vishy Anand is very clear about the aim of this academy:

The aim of the Westbridge Anand Academy is to support our young players. What I want to see from this is to make sure some of them will break into top 10. I want our juniors to climb the world rankings. I want to support them in the next few years and I feel that is a very important step for our youngsters.


Some of these youngsters have already played against Anand in the past and given him a tought fight.

Raunak Sadhwani very nearly beat Vishy Anand on the Isle of Man in 2018


We spoke to each of the youngsters about being chosen for this initiative and this is what they had to say:

Raunak Sadhwani: It’s a golden opportunity to learn from my all-time favourite legend Vishy Anand sir. I am very excited for this coaching program. Big thank you to Vishy sir for choosing me & I will try to give my best. This support means a lot for me. Thank you, Westbridge Anand Chess Academy.

Praggnanandhaa: It’s a wonderful initiative. We had a few sessions in Anand Sir’s home, and it has always been very useful for me and my sister. I am really thrilled to work with Anand Sir. I would like to thank WestBridge Capital and Anand Sir for this initiative.

Gukesh: Really blessed and thrilled to work with my idol and feel motivated to work. [It’s] harder to justify the faith shown on me. Heartfelt thanks to WestBridge and Anand sir.

Vaishali: I would like to thank Sandeep Sir, the managing director of WestBridge Capital and of course Anand sir for this great initiative! I am very happy to be part of this and I hope I’ll make good use of this training sessions.

In mid-2019 and early-2020 two training camps were sponsored by Microsense Technologies, and they had roped in 14th World Champion Vladimir Kramnik and former World Championship Challenger Boris Gelfand. This training camp proved to be extremely useful to the youngsters. Working with these world-class players gives them an idea as to what they should be aiming for in order to become the best in their art.

Vladimir Kramnik

Vladimir Kramnik teaching the art of opening preparation to the youngsters in Chens-Sur-Leman in August 2019 | Photo: Amruta Mokal


More about WestBridge Capital

Sandeep SinghalWestBridge Capital is a highly experienced investment firm, managing over US$3 billion of capital, which focuses primarily on investments in India. WestBridge seeks to partner with some of India’s most promising mid-sized companies run by outstanding entrepreneurs and management teams for the long-term, whether they are public or private. Check out their official website.

Sandeep Singhal, the co-founder and managing director of WestBridge, has similar ideologies to Vishy Anand. Together, they decided to form the WestBridge Anand Chess Academy. 


Links


Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.
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SUPER_NEZH SUPER_NEZH 12/23/2020 02:48
This is excellent news and what a privilege to have the living legend Vishy Anand (along with Capablanca, Fischer, Kasparov ...!) At the head of this Academy, founder and trainer at the same time !!!!
There is no doubt that very great talents will come out of this school, to be continued ...
philidorchess philidorchess 12/23/2020 02:22
Amazing!!
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