Check and Mate By Vishwanathan Anand written by Neharica Mishra from Amity University, Lucknow
Internationally renowned game of chess originated in India during the 6th century. During that time the game was known as ‘chaturanga.’ Chess has been played in India since the 6th century A.D. but it was only in 1988 that India got its first Grandmaster- Vishwanathan Anand who has been the world champion since 2007. He started playing chess at the tender age of six. As an Indian chess player he spelled a trail by securing the first position in every chess tournament, including 1984, becoming the youngest Indian to be bestowed upon the title of International Master IM (aged fifteen), becoming the youngest Indian champion at 16, in 1987 he became the first Indian to win the World Junior Championship and then he became India’s first Grandmaster. He is also the first World Champion since Robert James Fischer and second since Max Euwe.
Apart from winning the World Championship five times, he also became the first ever Indian to cross the 2800 FIDE rating mark. Anand was quick to break the 2800 barrier and still remains the only Indian to achieve that mark. He became the first Asian to win the FIDE World Chess Championship, after defeating Spain’s Alexei Shirov in Tehran in 2000. He has won the Chess Oscar on 6 occasions - in 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008.
His hard work and success has been widely acknowledged and has received many national and international awards including the Arjuna Award for outstanding Indian Sportsman in Chess in 1985, the inaugural Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India’s highest sporting honour in the year 1991-1992, the British Chess Federation’s Book of the Year Award in 1998 for his book ‘My Best Games of Chess,’ the Padma Bhushan in 2000, the Sportstar Millennium Award in 1998 from India’s premier sports magazine for being the Sportsperson of the Millennium. In 2007, he was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, making him the first sportsperson to receive the award in Indian history and also received the ‘Global Strategist Award’ for mastering various formats of World Chess Championships by National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) in 2011.
What actually inspired and revived the interest of youth in the game of chess was and still are the success stories of Vishwanathan Anand and his rivalry with the legend Garry Kasparov. The game of chess is gaining popularity in India as Anand states that he “witnessed evidence of the depth in Indian chess at the Gibralter Chess Festival 2016,” and he also added that he expects to see a hike in the number of Indian Grandmasters in near future. He further added that every State in India must strive to organize chess tournaments in their respective states as such tournaments could become “the nucleus for chess in India.”
The youth of India has started following the steps of Vishwanathan Anand and so professional chess in India has come a long way as Dibyendu Barva from West Bengal became India’s second Grandmaster in 1991.
Currently, India has 42 Grandmasters and 89 International Masters, with an average FIDE rating of 2670. India is ranked 5th in the world among 174 countries with Russia, China, America and Ukraine leading India. Indian chess players have won the Junior World Championship twice since Anand in 1987, with Harikrishna and Abhijit Gupta achieving the title in 2004 and 2008 respectively. Koneru Humpy, Harika Dronavalli and Soumya Swaminathan have won the Girls U20 World Cup in 2001, 2008 and 2009 respectively.
In today’s scenario, Chess is a renowned game after Cricket and people have started acknowledging this intellectual game, but despite such outstanding and praise worthy performances and accomplishments, chess is not very prominent on the Indian Sports fan’s radar. Indian sports fans have lately taken interest in Anand’s achievements but have not really followed it or understood the very essence of this game. There are various talented individuals who have keen interest in this game and they can become our country’s asset with proper support and guidance.
Chess gradually continues to bloom and the development of chess would introduce this sport to oodles of Indian youngsters who can follow the steps of one of the greatest masterminds, Vishwanathan Anand and make India proud.
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