In India, chess is a highly well-known game. Researchers believe that over 70% of all individuals in the nation have played chess at some point in their lives.
India is said to have been the genesis of chess. Despite the game’s Indian origins, it doesn’t appear likely that this contributes much to the popularity of the modern game in India.
The All-India Chess Federation (AICF), established in 1951, has had a tremendous impact on the developing chess landscape in the nation.
To help chess players ascend through the rankings from an early age and learn to compete against opponents with similar skills in an effort to grow, they have developed a healthy competitive system. India has become the indisputable world champion of junior chess thanks to its initiatives, which include organizing more than 300 competitions annually.
In the Indian chess scenes during the 1960s, 1970s, and all the way into the 1980s, Manuel Aaron of Tamil Nadu was a prominent figure. He would set a record by claiming the Indian National Chess championship nine times. He was picked countless times to represent India at the Olympics.
Aaron was also the first International Master in the nation. He accomplished this on a budget of virtually nothing. After paving the path for Indian chess in the global sphere, Aaron made significant contributions to the game’s growth in India. He also served as the All-India Chess Federation’s secretary for several years.
Viswanathan Anand was another key figure in the development of chess in India. When he won the National Sub-Junior Indian Chess Championship at the young age of 14, everyone sensed that India had unearthed a remarkable talent. With 9 points out of a possible 9, he won the competition, an incredible achievement.
He became appointed India’s first Grand Master in 1988. He joined an elite group of players in 2006 who attained an ELO Rating of more than 2800. He has six titles in the world chess championships.
Anand is the only sportsperson in India to have earned both the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, which acknowledges the best player in the nation, and the Padma Vibhushan. He is one of the most famous figures in India, and it was his accomplishments that fueled the country’s enthusiasm for the game.
The 44th Chess Olympiad is currently underway at Mahabalipuram, Chennai, and is set to go down in history as the tournament with the most participating nations and teams. The prestigious competition has seen matches between 187 countries, 188 teams in the open division, and 162 squads in the women’s section.
In the meantime, a record 30 Indian chess players—three in the open division and three in the women’s division—are split among six teams and will face off against the greatest players in the world.
A: Vidit S Gujrathi, P Harikrishna, Arjun Erigaisi, S L Narayanan, K Sasikiran.
B: Nihal Sarin, D Gukesh, R Praggnanandhaa, B Adhiban, Raunak Sadhwani.
C: Surya Shekhar Ganguly, S P Sethuraman, Abhijeet Gupta, Karthikeyan Murali, Abhimanyu Puranik.
A: Koneru Humpy, D Harika, R Vaishali, Tania Sachdev, Bhakti Kulkarni.
B: Vantika Agarwal, Soumya Swaminathan, Mary Ann Gomes, Padmini Rout, Divya Deshmukh.
C: Easha Karvade, Sahithi Varshini. Pratyusha Bodda, P V Nandhidhaa, Vishwa Vasnawala.
16-year-old grandmaster R Pragganandhaa has already captured the hearts of Indian chess fans. With his two triumphs over reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen, he has continued to grab attention in 2022. In Serbia, he successfully won the Paracin Open.
Grandmaster Arjun Eirgaisi, who is 18 years old, continues to be among the best players from India with his quick surge in the rankings.
Arjun boosted his ratings from 2567 to 2689 over the course of a year, entering the top 50 in the world. He finished second in the FTX Road to Miami prelims and won the National Championships and Delhi International Open.
S L NARAYANAN
In 2015, SL Narayanan, a 25-year-old maestro from Thiruvananthapuram, attained the grandmaster honor. He gained a spot on the Indian team due to a string of solid performances in the second half of 2021. On the merit of his versatile game, he is now rated at 2659 points and is projected to step up to the occasion for India.
The most prominent figure among contemporary Indian chess players is the 26-year-old grandmaster Vidit Gujarathi. Vidit, who often streams chess, led the Indian team to a gold-medal tie with Russia in 2020.
Since the 2018 Chess Olympiad, he has triumphed at the 2019 Biel International championship and came second at the 2020 Prague Chess Festival.
The growing interest in chess in India has garnered investment. While commercial deals do not reward well enough in international comparisons, many of the country’s top chess players can now make a respectable living and put more effort into their profession.
And as players improve and more people grow keen on the game, India is currently producing an exponentially greater number of grand masters every year.
The future of Indian chess is very promising. The nation’s passion for the sport doesn’t seem to be waning, and success at the youth level is likely to be emulated at the international level with another decade or two of preparation.