Home News Being an Olympic sport will institutionalise chess, says Anand | Chess News

Being an Olympic sport will institutionalise chess, says Anand | Chess News

CHENNAI: In a move that has been widely debated — breakdancing, surfing, sport climbing and skateboarding got the green signal to feature in the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The ongoing covid-19 pandemic disrupted sporting disciplines across the world but has been kind to chess thanks to online events. Despite its popularity soaring to an all-time high currently — chess failed to get the tag of an ‘Olympic sport’.
Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand believes the sport will get a fillip once it becomes part of the quadrennial showpiece. “The world body (FIDE) is in ongoing talks with the IOC (International Olympic Committee), but I am not a party to that and not closely following it. But, in theory, it would be nice. Being an Olympic sport will institutionalise chess,” Anand told TOI on Thursday.
The 50-year-old chess ace feels more youngsters will take to chess if it’s part of the Olympics. “It will definitely benefit the sport. This year the numbers have been very good for chess. Chess.com has about 13 million subscribers and they added 3 million in the last few months. Queen’s Gambit has become the most watched series on Netflix. Who would have thought that the sales of chess boards and sets from stores would increase the way it has currently,” he said.
The chess ace is teaming up with WestBridge Capital to launch the WestBridge Anand Chess Academy (WACA). The aim is to offer mentorship to both established and upcoming players. To start off, Anand will be mentoring 5 promising junior players — R Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin, Raunak Sadhwani, D Gukesh and R Vaishali. Anand has already chalked out the targets for each one of them. “For Nihal and Pragg — in the absence of qualification for the world title — the obvious goal is to touch an ELO rating of 2700. For Gukesh and Raunak, the aim is to reach 2600 first and then 2650. For Vaishali, it will be to improve her junior rankings,” Anand mentioned.
Will this endeavour see the emergence of ‘coach’ Anand? “I don’t see myself as a coach but as a mentor. I see this as a great opportunity for me to help some youngsters. For a couple of years now, I have been interacting a bit with them. It’s also an excuse to know them better,” Anand stated.
Sandeep Singhal, co-founder and Managing Director of WestBridge Capital, hoped the initiative will make a big force in the sport. “We are thrilled to partner with someone like Anand who carved a name for India in the global chess circuit. With the WestBridge-Anand Chess Academy, we are taking a step with a vision to make India prominently visible in global chess circuits.” said Sandeep.