CHENNAI: About 100 children had the unique opportunity to learn chess from five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand at the Velammal-Vishy’s Master Class workshop here.
Years back, asked if he had inclination for coaching, Anand had replied, ‘I’m not sure whether I’ll be a good coach.” But there he was, interacting patiently with children for several hours, dissecting on the screen various moves.
“It was a very fruitful interaction with Anand sir. He spoke about end games and demonstrated with examples how important it is. He also gave us inputs on how to play and react in that situation. We are keen to learn on openings on Saturday,” said R Praggnanandhaa, world U-10 champion and the world’s youngest International Master.
Excerpts from Anand’s chat with The Sunday Standard:
How was the experience of coaching children for the first time?
It was very enjoyable. We have a very good pool of talent. A class like this can up their game and help them reach the next level. Many have chess knowledge, but as they start playing tournaments, they need insights on how to constantly assimilate ideas and be flexible. Tournaments require practical play. This camp will be about that.
Any thoughts of coaching in the future or mentoring players before big events?
So far, this has been great. I’m looking forward to taking this to a wider platform.
Coaching requires patience and understanding. How patient are you and has son Akhil helped you interact more freely with children?
I’m not really coaching. I look at this as a collaborative experience where I share perspective, knowledge and the kids bring their learning and enthusiasm. It’s more interactive and relevant to their chess strength rather than chess coaching.
How do you see the progress of B Adhiban, Vidit Gujarathi and SP Sethuraman?
It’s wonderful to suddenly see 4-5 Indians looking to get into the top-50. Obviously, P Harikrishna and I are already there. Vidit was getting very close. Adhiban has been fantastic.
In Wijk aan Zee, he played against the elite and fought back to get a really good result after a poor start. I was impressed by his flexibility. Once the initial phase didn’t work, he decided to mix things up.
Dronavalli Harika was so close to reaching the final of the Women’s World Championship. How do you rate her?
She is becoming very strong. Each championship has given her more confidence. I think she will soon win the championship. All of us have to try a few times to win. She has age on her side. She handled tie-breaks well.
You will be playing the World Cup in September. When will you start preparing and do you plan changes to your list of seconds?
You never stop preparing. It’s a different event and I’m already developing ideas.