Indian chess phenomenon Viswanathan Anand has been quite busy even as the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc around the world. He had recently taken to Twitter to announce the launch of his chess academy called the WestBridge Anand Academy which would be used to monitor the progress of young chess players ‘as persons and as chess players’. The venture was done in association with Sandeep Singhal, the MD of WestBridge Capital.
He had stated in a Tweet, “Viswanathan Anand took to Twitter today to announce and share details about his new venture. He said in a Tweet, “I am very excited to announce the launch of WestBridge Anand Chess Academy (WACA). Very happy to partner with WestBridge Capital in realising a long dream of mine to nurture talent in India.“
He then added “This will be a fellowship program that will aim to take our most talented junior chess prodigies to the top ranks. Sandeep Singhal at WestBridge Capital and I share the common philosophy that excellence can result from the right grooming, opportunity and training,” he said before adding that he personally will monitor all young chess players’ progress.“
Anand on his biopic
At present, a biopic directed by Aanand L Rai on the life of Viswanathan Anand is in works. Speaking about the biopic to The New Indian Express, Anand said, “I don’t know if I would really want to set that. It is interesting to see how someone from the movie-making background approaches it. For me, it is useful feedback. It would be really nice to see how other people relate to it as well. In the end, I would like to have my story. But I would like it to be entertaining as well. I think I have to approach this with an open mind.“
“What you want is to see what appeals to them and what they think appeals to a broader audience. It will be a lot of back and forth. It is better to go there with your story and they will say, ‘this is interesting’ and ‘that is interesting.’ Only after you have talked for a while, something will pop in your memory. Of course, I would like it to be authentic and obviously help them with capturing the chess accurately,” he added.
The future of Classical Chess
Norwegian chess icon Magnus Carlsen has recently taken to participating in a lot of Rapid Chess tournaments and has vouched for the same. Viswanathan Anand spoke of how Classical Chess is dying due to such blitz tournaments saying, “For someone like me and my generation, this feels like a loss because you think ‘how can you possibly enjoy the game when everything is spinning by so fast?’ But I have to concede that a different generation sees it differently. As long as the overall popularity of the game is going up, you don’t want to be complaining. Magnus said in a couple of interviews that Classical chess had some fundamental issues going forward, and that he thought computers had narrowed the space for Classical chess.”
He further said, “Would I be happy if there was only Rapid chess? I don’t know. But in 10 years, it matters more what the next generation does. In cricket, Tests will never again occupy the role it once did. In chess, also it could get that way.”
Anand on his new chess academy
Speaking about the WestBridge Anand Chess Academy, its co-founder Anand said, “There are a couple of things which inspired me. One thing is that I am a board member on the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) foundation that supports athletes trying to win an Olympic gold. Another is the Mikhail Botvinnik Chess Academy founded in the 1960s. I think Anatoly Karpov was one of his students. Botvinnik felt he had to pass on his knowledge and think of the next generation. Just under two years ago, I went for the annual day of WestBridge Capital in Bangalore and at the end of the meeting was asked if there is something I want to do in chess. I said ‘yeah actually.’“
Anand signed off saying he would spend a lot of time mentoring young chess players and juggle it with his own playing time saying, “In the future, I will definitely need time for chess and there is going to be a bit of juggling.“