Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand on Thursday said that the future of Indian chess “looks promising” and tipped some of the players to break into the top-10 of the FIDE ratings.
Anand, currently at the 15th spot at the Fide rankings, picked the likes of Pentala Harikrishna and Vidit Gujarathi as the players expected to be among the top-10 in the coming years.
“I would say Hari [P Harikrishna], Vidit [Gujarati], Surya [Sekar Ganguly], Sasi [K Sasikiran]. Sooner or later somebody from India will break into top 10. Things are looking promising for India as we have a lot of talent,” Anand was quoted as saying by PTI.
“Players like Praggu [R Praggnanandhaa, who recently won a tournament in London], Nihal Sarin, D Gukesh, Raunak Sadhwani and there are more. Things are looking good for Indian chess,” he added.
Anand, who turned 50 on Wednesday, said competition among the world’s elite has become really tough and few players have been able to hold on to their positions.
The former world champion admitted that the gap between world No 1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway and the rest of the players was big, but praised World No 2 Fabiano Caruana and China’s Ding Liren’s performances recent times.
“At the moment, the gap between Carlsen and others is a big one. [Fabiano] Caruana and Ding [Liren] are doing incredibly well as well in recent times.”
Asked why Carlsen is dominating the field, Anand said, “He is able to basically execute his skills. He has a lot of talent to begin with and puts in a lot of hard work. He is very good at learning new things.”
Anand spoke at length about his book Mind Master. “It is a project that has been floating for a long time but a couple of years ago we suddenly thought the 50th birthday was a convenient deadline and we aim for that. That also forced us to concentrate and finish the book,” he said.
“I feel it was time to tell my story. And the way we selected it was not so much like an autobiography as to pick out the most significant moments in my life. The ones that I remember the most, that had the most impact on my way of thinking. Extract life lessons from them and present them.
“It is a journey through my career and world of chess, the things that I learnt, the struggles that I faced.”
The book also contains references to his mother [Susila Viswanathan], who was responsible for him taking up chess. On his rivalry with the legendary Russians Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov, Anand said the book has a fair mention of it and both had helped him learn a lot.
“I have written about the rivalries with them, how I experienced them, how I won through them. I learnt a lot from them also.”
Recalling a particular incident, Anand spoke about how Karpov came 45 minutes late for a game and the manner in which he reacted to it. “That’s an interesting chapter and people would find it interesting too,” he said.
On the use of computers in chess, he said, “When I started playing chess, computers had nothing to do with chess. Now they have almost everything to do with chess.”
Anand stated that his passion for the game keeps him going even at the age of 50. The five-time world champion said he has given his future much thought. “I don’t know,” he said. “I am not thinking too much about that. I might do some mentoring. This year I have a full calendar so that’s focus.”