'Viswanathan Anand Sparked a Chess Revolution in India'
Viswanathan Anand winning the World Junior Chess Championship and subsequently earning the GM title is an important landmark not just for Anand but for Indian chess too as it set up a chess revolution in India. Anand’s feat was similar to legendary Lala Amarnath’s achievement of scoring India’s first Test century.
“Anand winning the world junior crown was a remarkable feat. Being the first one to do so was all the more special,” said Manuel Aaron. Years of practice, dedication, sacrifice, travel helped Anand achieve something that was beyond the reach of youngsters at that time.
Although India had an IM in Manuel Aaron and several talented players, none could get near the GM norm. “There were quite a few talented players then like TS Ravi and others. Apart from his talent, what helped Anand was opportunities. Anand played many tournaments both within and outside Tamil Nadu. This exposure made him refine his game and his ability to learn (read from books) set him apart. The other players, however talented, could not go up the ladder due to paucity of exposure,” explained Aaron.
It is interesting to note that Anand in his World Junior match in 1987 defeated Simen Agdestein, who later became Magnus Carlsen’s first coach. Anand scored 9/13 to win the title and defeat Agdestein, the top seed in a crucial match in the middle of the tournament. Simen’s brother Espen Agdestein is now the manager of Carlsen. After that Anand won the Sakthi Finance International Grandmasters tournament and bagged the GM title.
GM RB Ramesh hails Anand’s feat of winning the GM title first and reckons it was an important landmark in Indian chess. “At that time we had only one IM in Manuel Aaron. No one could dream of becoming a GM and it looked like none would get there, for one needed money to go and play abroad. You have to play against and beat foreign players. Taking the cost in mind at that time, one thought becoming a GM was out of bounds,” said Ramesh.
“It is here that Anand like a torchbearer showed us the path and gave us the self belief that we (Indians) too could become GMs. His winning the World Junior title was special and the GM title later was like icing on the cake. It is because of Anand we have 34 GMs in India today. Hats off to Anand,” complimented Ramesh. (New Indian Express)
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