Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand has said that the current crop of talented youngsters form the 'golden generation' of chess in India.
“I'm throwing in the title early, but they are a golden generation,” he told THE WEEK in an exclusive interview in Chennai on August 21, the day R. Praggnanandhaa entered the FIDE World Cup final in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“They are all in the 2,700-plus group (Elo rating). And they're all under 20. That just does not happen; it's really something special. And what this means, and the reason I call them the golden generation, is they're going to spend the next 10 years at the top," Anand told Chief Associate Editor and Director Riyad Mathew and Sports Consultant Ayaz Memon.
"With varying career trajectories, of course, but they're going to spend the next 10 years being rivals and colleagues and friends and everything. So, for Indian chess, that augurs very well.”
Seeing so much talent is a new feeling for him, said Anand, who is the FIDE deputy president. “It's a very different vibe because I [have been] used to being the only Indian in a tournament for very long,” he said. “Whereas all of them, not only do they see each other, but they are rivals in the same tournament. So, it's incomparable to my experience. Even when I go and watch them, I realise it's a very different vibe for them.”
Anand added that, chess having transformed so much, he could only offer advice to the next generation, and not be “prescriptive”. “I would share my experiences, especially psychologically speaking and emotionally,” he said.
“But chess itself has changed so much," he explained. "When I was growing up, what we tried to pass on to people was, how do you find better moves? But now when the computer is giving you the best moves right away or the quickest answer, the thinking almost has to change.... So, how does my experience compare with them? I have to be careful. I can share what I think and leave it in the air, but I can't be too prescriptive. Honestly. [they] can judge it much better.”
Read the full interview in THE WEEK issue dated September 3.