Lanka Ravi, who got a chance to train Viswanathan Anand in the past, is confident of shaping the destiny of his team in the chess championship to be held in Manila

For Lanka Ravi, the first International Master from Andhra Pradesh, it was a pleasant surprise when he was named as coach of the Indian team (men and women), which will be taking part in the Asian Continental Indoor Chess Championship in Manila from May 17 to 27.

Widely regarded as one of the best chess brains in the country, Ravi had the privilege in the past of getting a chance to be ‘second’ (trainer) to Viswanathan Anand, long before the latter won the world championship.

So, for someone whose brilliance on the ‘64 squares’ never blossomed to the full potential in the big events despite a career high of being the national rapid champion once, Lanka Ravi is confident that he would play a crucial role in shaping the destiny of his team members in what he also believes to be a very demanding tournament.

“The cream of chess players from Asia including the superpower China will be there in the event, where the candidates for World Championship Swiss tournament will be selected,” reminds the articulate Lanka Ravi, who achieved the IM norm way back in 1987.

Ravi, who is the ONGC Manager (HRD), is also known to encourage talent not just in chess but in other games by playing a key role in the job recruitment under sports quota.

“Being a sportsperson, I know what it means to get a decent job to be a much better athlete as the challenges become bigger on the international stage,” Ravi points out.

19 member team

Officially, the Indian team comprises 19 members (both men and women) and has only one player from Andhra Pradesh in the list – Grand Master M.R. Lalith Babu.

Forty-nine-year-old Ravi, who played his bit in the evolution of big names in world chess from Andhra Pradesh such as Koneru Humpy and Pentyala Harikrishna long before they made their mark on the world stage, says that GM Krishnan Sasikiran is tipped to win the title with the biggest challenge to him coming from another Indian Parimarjan Negi.

“We have abundance of talent in G.N. Gopal, Vidith Gujarathi, Arun Prasad, Adibhan Bhaskaran and junior national champion Akash Ganeshan in men’s section. And, in women’s category, world junior champion Sowmya Swaminathan is the favourite to win the title with the likes of Mary Ann Gomes, Bhakti Kulkarni, Esha Karvade, Swathi Ghate having the potential to upset the best in the business,” he explained.

“I feel very happy that I got an assignment for the Asian championship second time (earlier he guided India to a silver medal in the Asian team event in China),” said a visibly-pleased Ravi.

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