Chess legend Viswanathan Anand turns coach for youngsters

Nihal Sarin, R. Praggnanandhaa, Raunak Sadhwani, D. Gukesh and R. Vaishali will get to train with one of the greatest chess players of all time.

Viswanathan Anand has joined hands with WestBridge Capitals to start a training programme.   -  FILE PHOTO/K.V.S. GIRI

Five-time World champion Viswanathan Anand is all set to don the coach's hat. He has joined hands with WestBridge Capitals to start a training programme.

The WestBridge Anand Chess Academy has taken on board five of India's most promising players to begin with. Nihal Sarin, R. Praggnanandhaa, Raunak Sadhwani, D. Gukesh and R. Vaishali will get to train with one of the greatest chess players of all time.

Anand said he was looking forward to the experience of being a coach. “I decided to take up this because I wanted to see more top players in FIDE's rating list,” he told Sportstar during an online interview on Wednesday. “When you look through the list, you will see a lot of Indian names all over, but you will also find that we are not as dominant as I would like us to be.”

While looking at FIDE's list, Anand also saw that India had lot more players in the junior category, but they somehow didn't maintain that strength to break into the elite category among seniors. “That is another reason for me to take up training,” he said. “I want to help out our youngsters.”

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He said he was inspired by a couple of examples. “I am aware of the role played by Mikhail Botvinnik's academy in the former Soviet Union, which produced World champions Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov and helped that country dominate the world,” he said. “Then there was this fellowship in the United States to encourage young chess players to take a year off academics and study chess chess.”

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Sandeep Singhal, WestBridge's co-founder and managing director, said the company was thrilled to partner with Anand. “We have seen how Pullela Gopichand, with his academy, helped India become a strong nation in badminton. We decided to start the chess academy after a brief chat I had with Anand at Bengaluru early this year.”

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