India’s visually impaired chess community is overjoyed with Viswanathan Anand’s fourth-consecutive world title victory. Anand, who has always done his utmost to aide blind players, defeated Israeli Boris Gelfand 2.5-1.5 in a four-match rapid-chess tie-breaker at Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery yesterday to win his fifth world title (2000, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012).
International Braille Chess Association vice president Charudatta Jadhav was hooked on to the live commentary in his Dahisar residence and he cannot contain his excitement. “I have waited for this day for almost a week now. I cannot express my joy in words. I feel like I have won the World Championship myself. No other Indian player is anywhere close to his level.
“He is a true candidate for Bharat Ratna. He has been a top chess player for almost 22 years now,” said the 44-year-old, who is also the general secretary of the All India Chess Federation. Jadhav suffered retinal detachment in his left eye when he was just 13 and six years later he lost vision in his right eye too from the same cause.
Jadhav, who represented India in four World Championships and two Asiads, said that disabled players are celebrating Anand’s victory like a festival. “I got so many calls and everybody is so happy. We are celebrating like it is Diwali. The kind of things that happened in India after we won the 2011 cricket World Cup are happening in the blind chess community right now.”
Jadhav elaborated on Anand’s contribution to blind chess: “He is tremendous motivation. When we come up with any new initiative for blind players, we keep him informed. And he has always responded to our mails and even provided lots of valuable inputs. The interest he has shown encouraged us to keep going on despite adversity. He has given us financial support too.
“Even though he is very busy, he always gives us time. In 2008, we wanted to tell Anand about our five-year plan to help blind kids improve. He was being felicitated for his title victory that year by AICFF in Chennai at that time. It was also his birthday. But he spared time to sit with me and went through the documents and offered to help. He also sends good wishes and motivational messages to our players. He gives equal importance to blind kids,” said Jadhav.
Baroda-based visually impaired chess player Darpan Inani (18), who got to spend time with Anand when he became the youngest Indian to win the National Blind Chess Championship in 2010, couldn’t stop praising his idol: “His love for the game is immense. Chess has become popular in India because of him. There is a craze or the game now. He is an inspiration for the entire chess community not just the blind.”