Viswanathan Anand chess academy to nurture India’s next big champion

Updated on Dec 15, 2020 09:36 AM IST
Five-time world champion and India’s first chess grandmaster will guide top talent in the project to find the “Next Anand”.
Viswanathan Anand of India(Getty Images)
Viswanathan Anand of India(Getty Images)
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By

Ever since Viswanathan Anand burst onto the scene in the 1980s, he has inspired a steady rise of Indian chess at the world level. Starting out as the “Lightning Kid” for the speed of his moves to becoming the country’s first grandmaster to its only world champion, Anand has been the pioneer every Indian chess player has wanted to emulate.

The 51-year-old chess maestro from Chennai will now lend a helping hand in nurturing ‘The Next Anand’. A five-time world champion across three different formats and a legend of the game, Anand has seen many talented players emerge after him, though none has risen to the highest levels of the game as he did.

On Monday, Anand officially announced the launch of his chess academy in collaboration with WestBridge Capital, an investment firm focused primarily on business in India.

“I am delighted to announce the launch of WestBridge Anand Chess Academy (WACA). Very happy to partner with WestBridge Capital in realizing a long dream of mine to nurture talent in India,” Anand tweeted.

“This will be a fellowship programme that will aim to take our most talented junior chess prodigies to the top ranks,” Anand announced, tagging his tweet #TheNextAnand.

Anand has been associated with training programmes for talented chess players earlier too. He has conducted sessions for young talent in Chennai and also trained with them before important tournaments. He will be more involved with WACA.

“Ï will personally be monitoring their progress both as a person and as a chess player,” Anand added.

The first batch of WACA trainees and those granted the WACA Fellowship include five top chess talents of the country—15-year-old R Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin (16), Raunak Sadhwani (15), D Gukesh (14) and R Vaishali (19), who is Praggnanandhaa’s sister.

As part of this fellowship, deserving candidates will be identified annually by a panel and Anand will be mentor them for the next one year.

“WACA is poised to create a platform to facilitate mentorship to both established and upcoming/aspiring chess champions with the aim to promote the sport of intellect in the country and ‘pass the baton’, to produce more world champions for India,” a press release said.

Given the Covid-19 situation, mentorship activities will be done virtually for now.

“GM Anand believes that the current situation works well and provides an ideal opportunity for the candidates to recognise, focus and work on their areas of deficiency which will in turn set them up well to achieve the long-term goals,” the release said.

“It is true that while caught in the world of tournaments and competitions, one tends to work on short fixes rather than work on resolving the issue in a broader long-term context,” said Anand of their approach to mentorship.

WACA proposes to adopt a dynamic form of mentoring that will include offline training, interactions and mentorship sessions, under expert coach and faculty recommendations.

WACA has roped in experienced trainer Artur Yusupov, Russian-born German GM who was Anand’s second for many years, Polish GM Grzegorz Gajewski, an expert in opening preparation, and Sandipan Chanda, one of India’s top grandmasters.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    B Shrikant anchors the Mumbai sports desk. A journalist for more than two decades, he covers hockey, chess, athletics, basketball and volleyball.

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