‘It is exciting to see that chess is becoming big back home’

K.V. SRINIVASAN

“Because of Anand’s emergence as the World champion, several young players took up the sport in India, which is a strong nation in chess today, and I hope Carlsen has a similar effect in Norway,” says Joran Jansson, president of the Norwegian Chess Federation, in a chat with P.K. Ajith Kumar.

Joran Jansson used to play chess with Henrik Carlsen at the same club in Norway. So he has been following the progress of Henrik’s son, Magnus, with interest for a long time. He caught a flight to Chennai to watch Magnus being crowned the World champion, not just as his father’s friend, but as the president of the Norwegian Chess Federation.

“I wanted to be here in Chennai to witness the greatest moment in history for Norwegian chess, and Norwegian sport, in fact,” Jansson told Sportstar at Hyatt Regency on the day Carlsen won the World Championship. “It is exciting to see that chess is becoming big back home.”

He is hoping Carlsen would do to Norway what Viswanathan Anand did to India. “Because of Anand’s emergence as the World champion, several young players took up the sport in India, which is a strong nation in chess today, and I hope Carlsen has a similar effect in Norway,” he says.

“Already, there are some promising signs. Chessboards were sold out in Oslo once the World Championship got underway here.” He said the viewership of the World Championship was even larger than that of winter sports. “And that is something which didn’t happen before, as winter sports are hugely popular back home,” he says. “As much as 20 per cent of the population was watching some of the World Championship games. And we had chess on the front page in our newspapers.”

Henrik Carlsen, Father of Magnus. "He (Magnus) has a very supportive, understanding family," says Joran Jansson.-K.V. SRINIVASAN

He says Carlsen succeeded not just because of his natural talent. “He has a very supportive, understanding family,” he says. “His father Henrik and I used to play for the same club, you know. Carlsen is also lucky that he has got the best people to guide him, like his manager Espen Agdestein.”

Jansson says already more children have started playing in Norway because of Carlsen. “Of course our population of five million is much smaller than India’s, but there are possibilities of new champions coming from Norway because of the Carlsen effect,” he says.

He is also looking forward to returning the favour — hosting Anand in Norway. “It would be great to have Anand for the Norway Super Tournament in June, 2014,” he says.

Norway is also hosting the Chess Olympiad next year. It will be held at Tromso, Carlsen’s birthplace.