Tata Steel Chess: Anand wears multiple hats, with aplomb

Brand ambassador, commentator, part-time journalist - Viswanathan Anand has been wearing multiple hats at the Tata Steel Chess tournament.

Viswanathan Anand interacts with Iran’s Parham Maghsoodloo (left) and India’s Arjun Erigaisi during the Tata Steel chess tournament on Wednesday, November 17.   -  PTI

They all stood up. They applauded, loudly, heartily.

Little Akhil must have felt very proud to see his father being honoured like that. His mother, Aruna, just the other day, had told someone how proud he was to see his father just standing on the stage, at the National Library auditorium here, during the last few days.

And it was Akhil’s first ever visit to a chess tournament. For his father, Viswanathan Anand, too, this was a first, but in a different way.

Anand had been wearing multiple hats these past five days. He was a brand ambassador of the tournament. He mentored the young Indian players. He commented in the popular live streaming of the event. He also became a part-time journalist, asking questions to the players during the press conferences.

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The genial genius from Chennai had played in the first two editions of the Tata Steel Chess, but didn’t want to this time around. He felt he wasn’t ready.

He still didn’t want to miss the tournament, though. “I told the organisers that I didn’t want to play but would be happy to be present,” Anand told Sportstar. “Then we worked out an arrangement, and I am very happy to promote this wonderful event.”

‘Strong, creative players’

And he should be happy with the way his wards performed in the tournament. “They are all very strong, creative players,” said the five-time world champion. “They are very young and they can grow in unexpected ways. Here I have been making observations, which I can tell them when we work.”

He feels Tata Steel Chess is doing a great service to the game in India. “It is a top event that gives something for the fans to follow,” he said. “Then the format gives an opportunity to a lot of youngsters, not just one or two.”

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