“I think this is going to be a golden era for sports in the State”

World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand, who successfully defended his title by defeating challenger Boris Gelfand last week, on Wednesday expressed his willingness to lend his support to the Tamil Nadu government's scheme to introduce chess in schools.

After calling on Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at the Secretariat along with his wife Aruna, the champion told reporters that if the State government needed his help, he would be delighted to provide it.

Emphasising the need for assistance of the corporate sector too in this endeavour, he said the kind of institutional support from the State government and the inclusion of chess in the schools was giving a “very firm foundation” to the future of chess in the State. The involvement of the corporate sector would take the game to the higher level. “I think this is going to be a golden era for sports in Tamil Nadu.”

Anand, who received a cheque for Rs. 2 crore from the Chief Minister, expressed the hope that the introduction of chess for school students from the age group of seven to 17 would produce great chess players. Referring to the State's plan of introducing the game in 32,000 clubs which he had discussed with her, Anand said the State government was putting up all infrastructure and “I believe within a couple of years, it will be fully operational.”

On his meeting with Ms. Jayalalithaa, he termed it “very, very nice” and thanked her for the cash award. She was well informed of the details of the match, he added.

The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu has brought out a publication, describing him as the “Pride of Chennai — The Greatest Chess Player,” and praising him for bringing an “Anand Wave” to inspire more Indians take to the game.