Anand launches India's first chess academy

Vishwanathan Anand opens the Mind Champions' Academy to promote chess among seven and a half lakh students in 2000 schools in the country.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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At the initiative of world champion Vishwanathan Anand, India now has its first chess academy for schools. As opposed to the idea of creating international masters and grandmasters overnight, the academy which will cover 2000 schools in the first phase will aim at promoting basic chess skills among a very young group. Vishwanathan Anand reversed tradition on his 33rd birthday. Instead of receiving a gift, Anand opened the Mind Champions' Academy for seven and a half lakh students in 2000 schools in the country. The Academy will promote chess in schools where computer education is offered with Anand designing the course himself. "The idea is that the kids know these courses and they teach themselves, just using the PC interface. That will be the main thing I will do," said Anand, the former World champion. "I design the courses and maybe monitor the competition. Once in a while, I will come online to a group of students or a group of schools. And maybe conduct the classes." Why did Anand launch the academy in Hyderabad? He says it is a tribute to the state's dynamism in both information technology and chess. In fact, the world champion acknowledged that the next generation of chess champions are all coming from the state of Andhra Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu felt chess could train you for politics as well. "One has to concentrate. There are so many moves and so many strategies. If you know this game well, you can play any other game including politics," Naidu says. When asked if he was game for politics, Anand answered with a laugh, "No, I think in politics you need a lot of other skills as well. Chess probably is useful. But I can probably learn a bit from Mr Naidu." The academy will target students between 10 and 15 years of age and hopes to create a virtual community of chess enthusiasts in the country.