‘Time for GenNext, more than happy as enthusiastic mentor’

During the interaction, the 52-year-old Anand also spoke of the significance of ratings in a team event, the impact the July 28-August 10 Olympiad would have on Indian chess and more.
Viswanathan Anand
Viswanathan Anand

CHENNAI: Having opted not to compete at the 44th Chess Olympiad that will be hosted in his homeland – Tamil Nadu – Viswanathan Anand described himself as an “enthusiastic mentor” for the India teams. Speaking on the sidelines of the ‘Masterclass by Viswanathan Anand’ event, which was organised by ChessKid and Chess.com here on Wednesday, the five-time world champion reiterated that he is more than happy to stay behind the scenes and let the next gen take centre stage. During the interaction, the 52-year-old Anand also spoke of the significance of ratings in a team event, the impact the July 28-August 10 Olympiad would have on Indian chess and more.

EXCERPTS

On Chennai hosting Olympiad

• It was very [much] unexpected. We were not originally supposed to host the Olympiad. As you know, all these things happened a few months back. Finally, it is going to start. I am really excited for that indeed.

On deciding not to participate at the global event

• I was not going to play anyway, irrespective of which nation was going to host. Recently, I have been reducing my commitments. I did not feel like changing my mind. It is nice in a way as India has so many great youngsters now. Then, why should I keep coming back? It is great that we have opened a new chapter and I hope they do very well.

On being a mentor for the India teams

• I will try to be around them if they (the players) want to consult me for something. Luckily, I am in constant touch with a lot of the team members anyway. So, it will be an extension of that. I briefly attended one of the coaching sessions in one of the training camps here (Chennai). I will be an enthusiastic mentor.

On his role as a mentor

• The main thing is to keep reminding them not to feel the pressure. It is nice that we play in India. It is nice that we play at home. It is nice to have extra teams (three each in Open and Women’s section). Putting pressure is not going to help anyone.

On how important ratings are in a team tournament like Olympiad

•In the end, you have to play a good game of chess. The ratings simply suggest you have done that (play well) often in the past. But, all of them have worked very hard and things should work out [for India].

On which teams he considers favourites

•The only team you really want to pick out is the USA [in the Open section]. The team is really superlative. There are other strong teams as well. I am not going to say ‘this team is a danger for India’. The format is unpredictable and we will have to see how it goes. In the Women’s section, many of them will get a chance to play (15 Indians). I think that it will be a life-changing thing (experience) for them.

On the impact Olympiad will have

•Everyone in India, especially in Tamil Nadu, is following what is happening. You can hardly not notice the Olympiad happening. There is a lot of excitement. That will have a positive impact for a long time. Like how any big event leaves its mark, this one will do too.

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