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Global Chess League, Vishwanathan Anand’s attempt to break barriers in chess

Vishwanathan Anand shares that he aims “to engage all kinds of audiences without watering down the sport”. The league is being floated by Indian industrialist Anand Mahindra.

Vishwanathan Anand

With the evolution of technology, it is being actively being incorporated in the field of sports. While some sports in cricket and football have expertly adapted to the changing world to use technology to their benefit. Others haven’t been that swift when it comes to that adaptation. The ongoing pandemic has forced one and all to think in a new direction. And the field of chess hasn’t fallen behind in doing so.

Tech Mahindra has announced that a ‘Global Chess League’ will be taking place this year. The idea for the new venture bloomed following the success of the Online Chess Olympiad. And Grand Master Vishwanathan Anand has been advisor-in-chief for the event. He shares that the event will be an eight-team affair which will feature a mix of women, men and juniors players in teams. But he is yet to lock on a format for it.

The idea of eight teams across the world representing different geographies coming together makes it a global event,” Anand told ESPN. “Some stages of the league will be over-the-board but we don’t have a clear break up yet. I’ve already started work on the format, it’s going to be robin-robin and a final elimination but we’re also trying to experiment with ideas. The key is to engage all kinds of audiences without watering down the sport.

“Important that we have a fantasy element,” asserts Vishwanathan Anand

Vishwanathan Anand

Anand adds that he aims to engage the audience. And to do so he is looking to ‘a fantasy element’ in the event. He is sifting through the plethora of chess events that have taken place since the lockdown. And non-chess leagues that have been in existence, looking for concepts and innovations to borrow and adapt.

We might make a provision for fans to participate with their teams, be a part in some of the decision making and maybe even qualify for one spot. It’s also important that we have a fantasy element. We’re also looking at leagues in other sports for aspects we can perhaps use. I still haven’t taken a call on whether I’ll be playing the league. It will depend on how much time it takes to set up this project.

Ever since the pandemic struck, many longstanding practices gave way to a huge number of new practices. With the success of chess events growing since the pandemic, Anand is aiming to ride the tide.

This is an interesting moment for chess,” says Anand. “It seems to be everywhere today. Not only has the sport benefitted from it but people too are getting to experience the technology that chess has been talking about for a while now. The doors are opening very fast for chess.

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