Six-time world champion Viswanathan Anand today expressed interest to be part of the Indian team for the Chess Olympiad to be held in Georgia later this year.
He said this after being felicitated by All India Chess Federation (AICF) and Tamil Nadu State Chess Association (TNSCA) here for winning the World Rapid title in Riyadh recently. He also claimed a bronze in the Blitz event at the tournament.
The Chennai Grand Master, who has not played in the sport’s premier team event for a while now and his presence could add strength to the national squad. While AICF presented him a cheque for Rs five lakh, TNSCA gave away a specially designed silver cascade.
Speaking at the event, Anand said it felt happy to be the world champion again after the tough time he had endured in the last year and more. He said he had missed out for a few years the feeling of people calling him a world champion. His performance in the last two years on occasions has been ‘wobbly’, with good and bad results, he said.
“It has been a struggle. Part of it was getting used to all the new talents that are coming up and the way the chess world is changing. Anyway the last two rapid events that I played in did not go so well.I was looking forward to a podium finish, but this (winning the gold in rapid) was unexpected,” Anand said.
“I am delighted to be here. I have always genuinely enjoyed the reception I get as a world champion. A world title is always special. It does one thing that doesn’t happen with any other tournament. Your name gets changed suddenly.
He also picked players D Harika, Nihal Sarin, R Praggnanandhaa, P Iniyan, S P Sethuraman, Vidit Gujrathi and B Adibhan among others as the names to watch out for in future.
AICF president P R Venketrama Raja heaped praise on Anand for winning the World rapid title and said he wanted to see Indian team win medals in the Chess Olympiad and World Team Championships.
He also thanked Anand for agreeing to be part of the national squad for the Olympiad. “It has been our intention to field the strongest possible team for the Olympiad. I requested Anand to participate and he willingly accepted to do,” Raja said.
FIDE (world chess body) vice-president D V Sundar, AICF honorary secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan and former AICF president J C D Prabhakar were among those who hailed Anand for winning titles at the world level and being responsible for making several youngsters take up chess.
India’s first International Master and nine-time national champion Manuel Aaron said it was nice to see Anand doing well again adding the ‘Madras Tiger hamesha zinda rahega’, alluding to his continuing success.