A Mumbai businessman Nikhil (name changed on request) has come all the way to watch the world chess championship here.
Holding the latest issue of New in Chess magazine, the die-hard chess fan quite often visits the media hall to talk to journalists, former players and officials.
His admiration for NIC (eight issues a year) borders on reverence. According to him, NIC’s content is a good mix of serious chess and general chess news. “There is analysis of games by players themselves, extensive coverage of international tournaments and player interviews,” he says.
Senior German journalist Ulrich Stock concurs: “NIC is one of the best chess magazines now,” he says. “And Dirk (Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, NIC’s editor-in-chief) is one of the finest chess journalists,” he says, “His article Finding Bobby Fischer in ’94 was brilliant.”
The man himself, Dirk, 56-year-old, is polite and soft-spoken to a fault. “We have readers from around 97 countries,” he begins. In India, the readership, he admits, is modest, but one that is growing gradually.
According to him, NIC brings chess alive with its attractive coverage. Dirk says the magazine, published from the Netherlands, is exclusively for those who “love chess.”
With the best of players in the world writing, NIC offers the readers, he says, a great experience. “We have a stream of regular contributors. Our content is attractive with good background articles and well researched ones.”
NIC has articles from great players, former and present. One of them is Viswanathan Anand. “Anand, says Dirk, has been writing for us since 1988 while Magnus (Carlsen) wrote when he got his first GM-norm at 13 years in 2004.”
The growth of world chess, explains Dirk, has been “in fits and starts. Getting more sponsorship has been a major handicap of the World Chess Federation.”
The future of the sport is quite good, he believes. “There are various countries promoting chess in schools. Countries like India, England, USA and many other countries are doing a good job,” he says.
Dirk first saw Anand play in 1992 in Reggio Emilia (a city in northern Italy).
“There were nine former Soviet Union players in the tournament and the highlight was that Anand beat Kasparov in white. It was a historical tournament win for him,” says Dirk.
NIC, he says, hasn’t fought shy of the FIDE administration. “We have reported on many chess scandals like how votes were being bought during the last elections,” Dirk says.
Joining the magazine in 1985 (it was launched in ’84), as a reporter, Dirk has climbed the rungs to become its head. NIC’s rise did coincide with the growth of Garry Kasparov and Anand. According to the 56-year-old Dutch, it has been a fascinating journey.
NIC continues to wow the amateur and the professional player in equal measure, which in itself is a huge achievement.