Anand backs Maharashtra Chess League to succeed

"The format of the league is very inclusive and I am sure the MCL will keep growing year by year. Clearly, if there are a lot more initiatives such as the MCL, there will be more talent coming up. We need to keep the growing chess players engaged," the five-time world champion said.

Viswanathan Anand with MCL organising committee's chairman Anirudha Deshpande.   -  Special Arrangement

Viswanathan Anand has thrown his weight behind the Maharashtra Chess League (MCL) by saying that the event could become the nucleus of the sport in India.

“The format of the league is very inclusive and I am sure the MCL will keep growing year by year,” the five-time world champion said in Pune on Saturday. He was speaking on the sidelines of the auction ahead of the fourth edition of the league.

“There are lot more players who have taken to chess as a sport. Clearly, if there are a lot more initiatives such as the MCL, there will be more talent coming up. We need to keep the growing chess players engaged,” said Anand.

Asked whether it was time for a franchise-based national league in chess, Anand said that the MCL could become the nucleus of the sport. “I am happy to be here for the auction of the fourth edition of the MCL. The league has given excellent opportunities to youngsters and the format is also nice,” Anand said. “It feels like coming back to the family. I really like (to see) the league growing,” he added.

Anand also announced that he had no plans to retire. “This question has been asked many times. I have discovered that I can’t give either answer. I don’t see any reason why I should think about retirement now. My plan is to first look at tournaments and participate in the grand chess tour that will take me to Brussels, St. Louis, London and other big cities,” he said.

“I would definitely like to qualify for the next Candidates tournament which is roughly scheduled for March 2018,” Anand said.