Pune has everything to take chess to the next level, says Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand

ChampCoach, Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand’s two-day chess workshop, commenced at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana on Saturday with the five-time world champion himself explaining the various nuances of the game.
Vishwanathan Anand at ChampCoach held at PYC Hindu Gymkhana on Saturday.(SANKET WANKHADE/HT PHOTO)
Vishwanathan Anand at ChampCoach held at PYC Hindu Gymkhana on Saturday.(SANKET WANKHADE/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Feb 17, 2019 10:12 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | By

Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, a name synonymous with Indian chess, is in the city for a two-day workshop — ChampCoach — that began at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana, Bhandarkar Road on February 16. The camp is attended by 200 chess players from eight states who will learn the game under his guidance, besides knowing his experiences and hardships faced in his career.

In an interview with Pranav Shahaney, Anand explained what he aims to achieve through the workshop and also spoke about the overall impact the sport has had on him and how he hopes others can feel the same way about it as well.

How will ChampCoach successfully mould better players?

I am excited about ChampCoach. I remember the interaction I had with established chess players when I was young left a deep impression on me. I feel that this sort of an interaction at a young age can guide them (participants) in the right direction and help them avoid making mistakes they don’t have to spend time unlearning and I am really looking forward to doing that.

Having visited Pune in the past, what was it that brought you back?

Right now we have quite an active chess community in Pune. There’s also an active community of sponsors, patrons and well-wishers and a lot of them are even here today (Saturday). These are all the people I started to meet 5-6 years back when I came for the Maharashtra Chess League. Since then, I have continued to come every year and I am hoping we can take chess to the next level.

Chess players are often expressionless during matches. How important is it to maintain a poker face?

If your face constantly tells what your next move is then you’re giving information to your opposition, but I know that there is a lot of pressure underneath and people are really struggling with their emotions. There are also certain players who let go and show all their emotions too. It’s important to remember that when things are going badly you don’t get disheartened and when they’re going well you don’t become careless.

Apart from sharpening the mind, does the sport has any other benefits as well?

Yes, I think it has a number of benefits. Working, learning, practising, persisting at things despite them eluding you for a while, all these things are useful life skills. Besides that, I think chess teaches you to work with data and a lot of information because of the nature of the way you learn in the game. It teaches you to avoid making hasty decisions when you’re tense and also things to do with self-control and being objective.

Chess is rumoured to be a part of the 2024 Olympics. Your thoughts?

I don’t know if chess has gotten that far to make it into the Olympics. However, I am happy that there’s some movement in this area. It is happy to know that the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) or World Chess Federation is trying hard to make it happen and it’ll certainly be a positive step taken for future success.

There are a number of youngsters bursting on to the chess scene in the country. Your thoughts on their future?

Yes, there are Gukesh D, grandmaster from Tamil Nadu in the u-12 category , Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, fourth-youngest person ever to achieve the title of Grandmaster, Chithambaram Aravindh, World u-14 Chess Championship in 2012 and there are many more names I am forgetting. There are quite a few youngsters and I feel that we have the most depth in chess from a very young age. It’s good that they’re all there so they’ll also motivate each other and I see a bright future because if they’ve already become a Grandmaster at the age of 13 then they have a lot of time on their hands.

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