All our youngsters are making steady progress, says Viswanathan Anand

Updated: Dec 20, 2019, 08:29 IST | G Krishnan | Mumbai

Viswanathan Anand, who turned 50 on December 11, reflected on the year 2019 as "disappointing for me" and "nothing stand out by India"

India’s chess great Viswanathan Anand. Pic/ Bipin Kokate
India’s chess great Viswanathan Anand. Pic/ Bipin Kokate

A technical glitch did not allow an audio-visual highlighting the growth of Fincare Small Finance Bank, of which chess maestro Viswanathan Anand is the brand ambassador, be played at a promotional event here on Thursday.

Anand, India's first chess grandmaster, sat through those moments patiently, sipping his cup of a hot beverage. Patience has been Anand's middle name in a glittering career that has won him five World Championship titles among scores of others. He regards the world title win against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008 as the "most successful match ever of my life".

He became India's first GM in the late 1980s and today, there are 65 of them in the country. "In December 1987, I became a GM. Next happened in 1990. It was very slow. Then it picks up a lot of speed. I remember saying, 'I am looking forward to the next GM, it will be 64, which is the number of squares on a chess board'. And within a couple of weeks, it has become 65 already. The number is increasing," Anand said about the rise in number of GMs in India. "It is very much technology-driven.

Everything you did in 10 years, you do in two years now."

Anand, who turned 50 on December 11, reflected on the year 2019 as "disappointing for me" and "nothing stand out by India".

He singled out teenaged GMs R Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin and D Gukesh and said he had a lot of expectations from them.

"Praggnanandhaa had a very good result in London (won London Chess Classic Fide Open recently) but the tendency is to look at the last result and think it is great. All our youngsters are making steady progress with the usual ups and downs associated with that," he said about the year gone by."

Anand came face-to-face with Praggnanandhaa in Kolkata last year. Does his approach change while facing someone 36 years younger and someone else elder in age? Anand said: "In general, when playing younger players, you take into account they have not all the experience to absorb. They know they have the idea but have not gone deep enough. I try to maximise (the situation), he tries to maximise in something else. That's the struggle in this age difference or difference in the way you learn chess."

Anand, who recently released his book 'Mind Master' touching upon lessons from his life, said: "Sometimes you have to something risky, move out of your comfort zone. My biggest struggle these days is to unlearn, how to forget things all sorts of little things you think you knew but not questioned over many years and finding out that reality may be different.

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