Musings on Indian Chess

May 9, 2006

by Hrishikesh

India’s chess talents

For years, India has been producing some of the brightest talents in the game of chess. Consider the following:

• Vishwanathan Anand with an ELO rating of over 2800 is a Super Grandmaster and the World Number Two, trailing narrowly behind Veselin Topalov.
• From India, today there are eight GMs- Vishwanathan Anand, Dibyendu Barua, Pravin Thipsay, Abhijit Kunte, Krishnan Sasikiran, Pendyala Harikrishna, Koneru Humpy and Surya Sekhar Ganguly, nearly 33 IMs, Two WGMs- Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi and Aarthie Ramaswamy and 15 WIMs.  
• Parimarjan Negi has set a world record by becoming the World's youngest International Master in the game at present.
• Krishnan Sasikiran is on the verge of breaking the 2700 rating points mark.

It must make you wonder whether the balance in world chess too is tilting noticeably towards India. Undoubtedly these are watershed years for the game of chess in the country.

But something seems to be amiss. In spite of India producing many chess whiz kids, very few have made the transition to the higher level and made an impression barring Vishwanathan Anand.

I am no chess pundit myself, except for following the game sporadically through Aravind Aaron’s insightful coverage of major chess events across the globe in The Hindu and The Sportstar. I am aware of the fact that there is a huge difference between Anand and the other Indian players at the moment and most of them wouldn’t even qualify to play him. But sometimes I am left wondering whether Anand should be playing in a lot more events in India to help foster the budding talents in the country. Except for a few promotional events, Anand plays very little competitive chess in India. Anand has certainly helped lift the profile of Indian Chess across the globe. But there is lot more talent in the country which needs to be harnessed to make India a chess superpower to reckon with.

Would the same logic of cricketers and footballers playing a lot more on the domestic circuit to help improve the standard of the game in the country apply to top chess players? I am not sure, but there should be some way of helping these young chess talents to realize their full potential. Ideas, anyone?

Did you know?

Most people (myself included) think that the ELO rating system followed in chess is an acronym. In fact, it is named after the family name of the system's creator, Árpád Élő (1903-1992), a Hungarian-born American physics professor and also a master-level chess player and an active participant in the United States Chess Federation (USCF) from its founding in 1939. 

Read more about the ELO rating system here

The FIFA world football ratings are also based on the ELO rating system.


2 Responses to “Musings on Indian Chess”

  1. Sohail Says:

    Well I see two reasons for those kids not making a transition to the next level ala Anand.

    1. Anand didn’t have any pressure of expectations. He didnt have anyone to match upto. But with these kids there is always the pressure of living upto sky rocketing expectations and to match Anand. Every time we see a champion in junior level we jump to the conclusion that he/she is the next Anand in the making and there by putting undue pressure on him/her. Similar to what happened to many generation of cricketers in England where they were compared to ‘beefy’.
    2. The second and the most important reason I guess is the coaching facilities. Most of the Kids in almsot all the countries start the game just as yet another game of childhood. With India having a long history of the game have parents who are pretty good themselves at the game. The kids pick up the nuances of the game from them at an early stage. This cannot be said about many other countries. But once you grow up you need to make that transition and move to the next level which is not possible just with the coaching given by parents. Trained, professional coaches will help in honing up the skills and also strengthening the mental aspects. This is where the other countries score over us.

    Now that you know the two important reasons dint you get any ideas for helping this young champions to realise their full potential:-)?

  2. Sarada Kanth Says:


    Your musings were very amusing. But let me tell you one thing, I am toddler w.r.t. sports and i believe there are a lot of us in this world who would like to know the ABC’S of Athletics Baseball Cricket n all other Sports. It would be a wonderful chance for us to know them thru your blog.
    Having known you for quite sometime and after being aware that you teach the things in the finest way possible , I would strongly recommend you to put the basic rules,terms and other starter information in your own fine way on your blog.
    Am sure the moment you do that, your blog will be blocked due to traffic jam.

    Your working neighbour,

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