Presently stuck in Bad Soden, a small German town, Viswanathan Anand chose to gainfully use the lockdown situation prevailing in most countries.
On Anand’s initiative, P. Hari Krishna, Vidit Gujrathi, B. Adhiban, K. Humpy and D. Harika joined him to play simultaneous chess, online with over 100 players across the globe for over five hours on Saturday. The event raised more than $6000 for PM Cares Fund.
Anand played 21 eligible players (having FIDE or Chess.com Blitz rating of 2000 or lower). These players donated $150 each to play Anand, who won 18 and drew three.
A "satisfied" Anand reflected on what led to the event, his experience of playing simultaneously with numerous players, and life in Bad Soden:
On what made him come up with this fund-raising initiative:
Well, these days, people are going to spend a lot of time online. And chess is going to be one of their favourite activities. So I thought if we get a chance for them (chess lovers) to engage with Grandmasters, it’ll be fun, a little bit special and raise some funds, as well.
“I’m going to be in Germany till flights resume, flights that get me all the way home because I don’t want to be stranded somewhere else, even if it's closer geographically. So the whole thing will have to open up.”
How did he get started?
Basically, I reached out to our team from Batumi (2018 Olympiad). For Humpy and Harika, I did not speak to them personally, I’m glad they came on board.
On his experience of playing online simultaneously with 21 players:
It was a bit disorienting at the beginning. I was trying to make moves, but it would always open the next board. I’m sure if I do it now, I’ll be okay, but that was a bit confusing. It was good fun and I thought the participants displayed a good, very good level. And generally, I was satisfied with my play, but in every game, there were some moments of very strange lapses of concentration. But I also got lucky in a couple of games, I must admit.
On turning to playing online chess:
Yes. I also started playing online, just private matches with friends to have some training and not to forget how to play chess. I think, I’m still one of the lighter users. But in a sense, after the lockdown, of course, I've been spending really a lot of time online.
On dealing with players who try to ‘trick’ him during over-the-board simultaneous display:
Yes, especially young players will often try one of those things. Of course, you have to be very much a beginner to think that you can remove a piece and no one will notice. So usually that's like seven-year-olds, eight-year-olds, they might try it. And they'll try to look at you very innocently. And then you come there and tell them well there has to be a piece. And so how do you know? I sort of unwind the game and explain how we got to this position, how it's impossible. It's nice, it's good fun. I have had people who have made two moves in a row. That's happened quite often, especially in the games that last a long time. I'll see if the second move didn't improve his position, I usually let it go without arguing.
On life in Bad Soden:
It’s pretty good here, I would say. The situation hasn’t gotten out of control. It’s grave, but I have a lot of flexibility compared to what I read about other places, where even going out for walks and so on, you need to write forms and get permission and things like that. Still here, it’s much better and I’m comfortable. Here, you’re allowed to go to the supermarkets. All restaurants are open though they only leave it (the order) out for you and then you pick it up. So takeaway is possible but nobody can sit in restaurants. You can go to supermarkets and grocery shops and there's no problem. Occasionally there's a queue, but it never takes more than three or four minutes before you get it. Also, you shouldn't take my experience too broadly, because I'm in a small town of about 20,000 people. In the cities, it may be quite different.
On how he looked at the present and the near future:
It doesn’t look like there’s going to be the national lockdown is going to be lifted anytime soon. I’m going to be in Germany till flights resume, flights that get me all the way home because I don’t want to be stranded somewhere else, even if it's closer geographically. So the whole thing will have to open up. There were some possibilities, getting quite close, but because I wasn't actually able to get to Chennai, I couldn’t take those things. The other thing would depend on the quarantine situation, all that as well. So, for the foreseeable future, it looks like I’m stuck here.
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