Viswanathan “Vishy” Anand is an Indian chess Grandmaster and former world chess champion. He became the first grandmaster from India in 1988, and is one of the few players to have surpassed an Elo rating of 2800, a feat he first achieved in 2006. Anand is a five-time world chess champion. Anand was the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, making him the first sportsperson to receive the award. Currently, he lives in Chennai.
I had the pleasure of meeting Shri. Narendra Modiji in 2010. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat . NIIT and myself were working on a project called “Mindchampions” Academy. The aim was to take chess to the grassroots level. Our vision was to encourage every state in the country to have chess introduced as an additional subject in schools. When Modiji was appraised of this idea he immediately called for a meeting. When I met him for the first time, I was most impressed with his value for time. He had a clock that measured the length of the meeting down to seconds. As a chess player I more than others know the value of finishing your game within the time. So we had a brief meeting, during which he said lets do something that hasn’t been done before. We discussed about doing the World’s biggest chess exhibition in Ahmedabad.
Within a few weeks his office was in touch and the logistics were arranged down to the minutest detail. On every brief Modiji and myself were marked and I was told he was personally involved with the arrangements. The event went on to get a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest chess exhibition ever held in a single place. By being one of the first States to embrace chess, Gujarat slowly saw a rise in it’s chess talents.
As a sportsperson , I am proud that he has involved sports in his mindset. Once during a Mann ki Baat program we interacted on how stress had to be handled with care and not let it control us. This was particularly relevant to schoolchildren who were writing their examinations. Similarly during the pandemic, sportspersons were called to give forth their views more than on one occasion on how the Government could implement specific strategies.
I wish him all the very best on his 70th Birthday .