Anand tries his luck at PRO Chess League

Viswanathan Anand plays as a ‘free agent’ for the Mumbai Movers and made his debut in the Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League — in his team’s fifth round — last week. 

Viswanathan Anand began playing in PRO (Professional Rapid Online) Chess League from the fifth round.   -  PTI

World rapid chess champion Viswanathan Anand here on Wednesday spoke of the format of the PRO (Professional Rapid Online) Chess League and his experience playing in it, on the sidelines of a function organised by the Fincare Small Finance Bank, for which he is a brand ambassador.

Anand plays as a ‘free agent’ for the Mumbai Movers and made his debut in the league — in his team’s fifth round — last week. 

Ahead of the sixth round, to be played on Wednesday night, he said, “On the first day, I found myself a bit out of sorts. Hopefully, I’m over the ‘getting used to’ bit, and today (Wednesday) will be normal.”

According to a Chennai-based coach, “Serious competitions” online are almost unheard of. The league being a team event is also something new, he says. Speaking of the format, Anand said, “Main difference is, we all had to have our videos on. And this is an anti-cheating measure. So, they basically want to see you, that you’re not suddenly looking at a second computer. It’s just an elementary procedure. I stopped paying attention (to the video) after a while, because you start focusing on your game.

“I’ve never played chess online as a team. Here, as soon as you finish your game, you wonder how the others are doing and follow them. So, it’s this combination of being a team event and being played online. That, I found very interesting. 

“There are huge differences in the strengths of players. So, even in a given team you will have huge rating gaps between players. But every person in a team plays every person on the other team. So, it’s not a typical team competition where one individual faces only one player from the opposition. Here, both sides are moving up and down the list. So far, I’ve found it interesting and it seems to have very dramatic results, with twists and turns.”

The league features eight teams each in four divisions - Eastern, Central, Atlantic, and Pacific. Mumbai Movers plays in the Eastern division. A team consists of four players, of which one is a ‘free agent,’ a player from anywhere in the World - the other three are ‘local players’ who have connection to the team’s home city (who live there, or live nearby, or played for a local club etc.).

Each team will play a round every Wednesday, besides the inter-divisional rounds on Saturdays and Sundays.