Six-year-old M.S. Dharshana, of Erode, was suffering from food poisoning. But this did not lessen her enthusiasm to play against the World Chess Champion and Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, on Saturday. “I did not want to miss the opportunity of playing against my role model and the world champion”, she said.
She was the youngest among 24 persons who emerged winners and runners-up in the six different age categories in the State Level Chess Tournament that was conducted separately for boys and girls and had the opportunity of playing against the champion on the same stage. The tournament was organised by SSM Education Institutions in Komarapalayam, Namakkal District, on December 15 and 16.
“I am playing chess since I was four-years-old and have enjoyed watching the moves of Anand in various events and am too happy to play on the other end of the board”, she told The Hindu and added that he was not only her role model in the game but also in real life. “My parents and coach told me that Viswanathan Anand was also a good son to his parents”, she added.
“It was a cool life time opportunity to meet our virtual guru and icon face-to-face, shake hands with the legend, play against him and get prizes from him. It will be a day that we will never forget”, the children said. There were similar moments to cherish for the 16 school and four college students against whom the World Chess Champion played a friendly match before distributing prizes to them.
Before beginning the marathon games Mr. Anand shook hands with the opponents and played close to seven rounds with each of them. He also signed autographs on their chess board of each player before winding up the incomplete games – due to unavailability of time. Some over enthusiastic children got more than one autograph in the sheets of news papers carrying news items about him and their autograph and slam books, to share them with their friends. Mr. Anand also spoke on the role played by Chess to help students study well and vice versa. He advised them to add a few hours of chess as part of their weekly routine to improve their memory skills.