Lockdown, Queen’s Gambit “Spectacular” For Chess, Says Indian Grandmaster

Mass lockdowns and “The Queen’s Gambit” have introduced surprising good points for chess in the course of the coronavirus, Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand informed AFP, praising the hit TV present’s “correct portrayal” of the sport. Anand, who spent three months stranded in Germany ready for a flight again to India, mentioned chess has loved a shock growth in the course of the pandemic, with tens of millions extra folks enjoying and following video games on-line. It has been helped by the runaway success of “The Queen’s Gambit”, which follows the rise of a troubled chess genius — based mostly on America’s Bobby Fischer — and has set new viewing data for Netflix.


“Folks sitting at residence appear to have found the sport of chess,” Anand, a five-time world champion, mentioned in a cellphone interview from his residence in Chennai.

“There are actually 13 million folks enjoying on-line. After which in the course of the pandemic there was additionally a Netflix present about chess, ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, and that’s additionally a bit spectacular.”

Whereas many sports activities have suffered in the course of the pandemic, chess has thrived. On-line platform Chess.com final month mentioned it had added 2.5 million new members for the reason that launch of “The Queen’s Gambit”.

“Identical to different sports activities have TV audiences, our audiences are principally on-line. So all that occurred was that the chess gamers moved on-line to affix the spectators,” mentioned Anand, 50.

“That is to not say there have been no changes to be made. It was fairly difficult and there was a studying curve, however sure chess has finished very nicely.”

– ‘Federer, Maradona in your room’ –

Anand, acclaimed as the best participant India has produced, mentioned know-how had led to deep modifications for chess, with the web now offering the platform to take it to a mass viewers.

“Nearly anybody, even somebody who does not know the foundations of chess can comply with on-line,” mentioned Anand. “A spectator-friendly expertise is being created.”

Anand gained his first world title aged 30 in 2000, three years after super-computer Deep Blue’s epochal defeat of Russian world champion Garry Kasparov.

“I used to be the crossover technology. I used to be 17 when the primary chess database got here alongside. I’ve just about labored with computer systems from that point onwards until as we speak,” mentioned Anand.

“I feel computer systems have modified the best way you research the sport. Each individual regardless of how weak, how remoted, has the world’s strongest chess participant sitting within the room with them all the time prepared to reply any query.

“Consider it, you’ve a Roger Federer and Diego Maradona in your room and saying, ‘Ask and I provides you with any reply’. That is been the impression of chess computer systems.”

Anand loved nice rivalries with the likes of Kasparov, Russian grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik and Soviet-born Israeli Boris Gelfand.

He mentioned there are nonetheless muscular showdowns similar to Magnus Carlsen towards Fabiano Caruana — the present main gamers — and tipped teenage sensation Alireza Firouzja, who was born in Iran however performs for France, for future stardom.

– ‘You want that pressure’ –

He mentioned Russian domination is more and more being challenged, with Ding Liren and Wang Hao main a wave of Chinese language gamers and Caruana on the forefront of a rising US onslaught.

“China might have peaked just lately by way of having two actually robust gamers stand out however they’ve had appreciable depth for some time,” mentioned Anand.

“And the opposite factor is that they’re superb in chess Olympiads, so that they play nicely as a staff. So we aren’t shocked by good Chinese language outcomes any extra.”

Anand, who turned a grandmaster at 18 and stays on the planet prime 20, was enjoying in a chess league in Germany when most worldwide journey got here to a halt in February.

He stored himself busy following his favorite soccer staff Actual Madrid, doing commentaries and main India within the On-line Nations Cup earlier than lastly returning residence in Could.

However regardless of the advances in know-how, he mentioned it was unimaginable to copy the strain and ambiance of a stay sport.

“If you wish to play, you want that sense of being sitting there within the corridor feeling that pressure,” he mentioned.


“All these issues, I feel I want to recollect once more. It has been a really, very lengthy break. 

“We by no means had the world grind to a halt like this.”

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