India needs to host top-level chess: Anand

With Indians reigning at almost all levels, World Champion Viswanathan Anand feels it is time India starts hosting top events to take the sport forward.

updated: January 17, 2009 11:21 IST
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New Delhi:

With Indians reigning at almost all levels, three-time World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand feels it is high time India starts hosting top events to take the sport forward in the country.

"India should now work on hosting more and more top-level tournaments, including category tournaments. It's very important for the growth of the sport in the country," Anand said.

Asked about the minimum number of tournaments that should be organised, Anand said any number would be an improvement.

"Actually no number can be enough but since there are hardly any top events in the country at the moment, any number would be an improvement," he told reporters during his visit to the capital city.

Except the women's world crown, Indian players bagged all top honours last year, including the youth and age-group titles. Besides, India also boasts of as many as 18 Grandmasters and an umpteen number of International Masters.

However, Grandmasters like K Sasikiran and P Harikrishna, who are the top Indian players after Anand, have so far failed to capture people's imagination.

Although India has such a large talent pool in chess, Anand said, it was still some distance away to catch up with superpower Russia.

"We're narrowing the gap with Russia but they are still ahead on many counts. We can't write them off so soon," he felt.

On who would be the best player to step into his shoes, Anand quipped that "I am still playing chess and not considering retirement for sometime".

But Anand, who is skipping the Corus Super Grandmasters Championships beginning on Saturday, said he was hopeful of a good start by Indians at Wijk Aan Zee.

"I gave a miss to the tournament this year because I knew it would be quite close to my Bonn (World Championships match) event. But there is a heavy Indian contingent there.

"We have (world champions Dronavalli) Harika and Abhijeet Gupta in Category C while Sasikiran is in Category B. It was my breakthrough event and I hope they also get a breakthrough there," he said.

The 39-year-old chess' living legend said he would like to leave behind the legacy of chess as a movement in India. "I want to leave behind the legacy of chess as a movement in India. I would like to look back and see all children learn chess in the Mindchampions Academy," he said.

"Chess skills are useful in all walks of life whether as a chess player or in other professions. It is beginning to reach every nook and corner of the country as compared to past when it had very much a Southern and Western presence," he added.

The Spain-based Indian ace said efforts were on for inclusion of chess in Olympics.

"We are continuously working towards that. Many countries now officially recognise chess as a sport and that a big step towards its inclusion in Olympics," he said.

On the confusing World Championships cycle, Anand maintained that it was not right to change its format frequently.

"No matter how difficult the circumstances are, you should not change the cycle at the half-way stage. There has been a lot of discussion on it and believe me we are discussing it for last 20-years... we are in talks with the the international federation (FIDE) and hopefully we will have a decision soon," he said.