“Chess players are no more eccentric than other people”


At the Express Adda presented by Reid & Taylor in association with Olive Beach at New Delhi last week, world chess champion Viswanathan Anand was quick-witted and insightful. In conversation with Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief of the Express Group, and Rajendra S Pawar, Chairman of NIIT, he said that though Indians playing chess were highly regarded by the world — like those in technology, fashion and IT — the enormity of social changes needed in India remain as baffling as ever

Talking about an analogy between what happens on the chess board and other sports, Viswanathan Anand, 42, spoke about Roger Federer's dismantling of his opponents on way to his seventh Wimbledon title.

He drew parallels between Federer's mastery over Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray at Wimbledon 2012 and said it was akin to him dismantling opponents while playing with white pieces. He also spoke about how he interprets the body language of opponents across the board and on why most chess players are 'normal people'.

On chess/ players vis-à-vis cricket/cricketers in India:

When I started playing chess, the big thing was will we ever have a GM (Grand Master). But when I started winning titles, people showed a little more interest in chess. Over time it got better because the coverage improved and I started hearing slightly more sophisticated questions, like the openings that I might have selected or some other details. Something like the sophisticated questions posed on cricket in India.

On increased awareness about chess:

In Frankfurt there was once a big rapid tournament. There was a Punjabi who owned an Indian restaurant. He used to come and watch the tournament every year. He once told me, "I follow all the activities of the Indian hockey team but for you I make an exception and come to watch you play." I was quite touched by that.

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