Praveen Thipsay: ‘Chess is attracting new audience during lockdown’

India's third Grandmaster is spending many hours teaching chess online during the lockdown. For the first time in his life, he has also started playing chess tournaments online.

Chess Grandmaster Praveen Thipsay has been playing online chess during the lockdown.   -  Ch. Vijaya Bhaskar

Praveen Thipsay hasn't stepped out of his apartment at Khar, Mumbai, since March 18. He doesn't intend to, for another month.

He says the situation is a bit frightening in Mumbai, which has become COVID-19's hotspot in India. “From my flat I could watch the street, and it is empty, totally,” Thipsay tells Sportstar over phone. “It is a very busy area normally, even at night there would be lot of noise.”

Now, all you could hear is silence.

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“I think it would at least be August when Mumbai could hope to return to some normalcy,” he says.

Chess, though, lifts Thipsay's spirits. India's third Grandmaster spends many hours teaching chess online. For the first time in his life, he has also started playing chess tournaments online.

“I have enjoyed playing online,” he says. “I have played five tournaments so far and it felt nice posting wins against some strong foreign Grandmasters.”

He has also been following a lot of online chess. “I was delighted to see Viswananthan Anand crushing Ian Nepomniachtchi in the Nations Cup in just 17 moves,” he says. “His victory against Teimour Radjabov was brilliant too. It was like watching Anand of the old.”

With Anand, Magnus Carlsen and many other top players competing in online tournaments regularly, chess is probably the only sport that is covered regularly in the media during the lockdown.

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“That, of course, helps chess reaching out to more people,” says Thipsay. “There is no doubt that chess has attracted a new audience. It is up to the officials to make use of it.”

He feels the lockdown should have been an ideal opportunity for the All India Chess Federation to conduct online tournaments.

But, infighting within the organisation has ensured that it is for all the wrong reasons that the organisation is making headlines these days.

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