The Greatest Indian Origin Chess Player In The World

Anish Giri is one of the premier chess players in the world right now. The 29-year-old Dutchman of semi-Indian origin has beaten all the leading lights, including five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen and reigning world champion Ding Liren (China). He has been a Top Ten player for close to six years.

What is more interesting is that Anish’s grandparents are Indian (father Sanjay is an Indian of Nepali origin), while his mother Olga is Russian. Even though Anish has not visited India much, his love and regard for the Indian players are phenomenal. Anish, who had a very close bond and friendship with Vidit Gujrathi, who hails from Nasik, is one of India’s top chess teens, and the duo share a very healthy relationship.

“I and Vidit are more or less the same age, and we started playing a lot of junior tournaments together. For some reason, we hit off well and formed quite a good bond. For some time, we started to travel together, and the bonding increased to a great extent. We are still the best of friends,” said Anish. Anish, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, has been at the forefront of Dutch chess for nearly a decade now. Sanjay, his father, worked in the health sector in Russia, where he met Olga, his future wife.

Frans Peeters

Anish has had a big connection with India’s best-ever chess player and three-time world champion, Viswanathan Anand. He has been Anand’s second training partner for nearly two years. That experience, which he gained while working with Anand, is something that Anish will treasure for his lifetime. “I will cherish forever the time I spent with Anand. Everything about him is so methodical and precise, and I was very impressed by the manner in which he approaches the game. It’s like clockwork precision—something that was not my part of the game then,” he said. Another aspect of Anand’s game that greatly appealed to Giri was the Indian’s lightning speed. “Anand does not seem to think about his movements. He makes his moves at lightning speed. That comes from someone who has such a huge and wide knowledge of the game,” said Giri.

He also said that Anand was very perfect when it came to maintaining notes about his different opponents. He has noted down the strengths and weaknesses of each and every one of his opponents. That is something of an arduous and herculean task, but it also speaks volumes about the kind of organised player Vishy is,” said Anish.

Giri, who spent the initial 12 years of his life in Russia before moving on to the Netherlands, was candid about learning the basics of the game in Russia. “Russia was a superpower in chess for a long time, and the competition at the junior level there is phenomenal. There is no denying the fact that the competition at the junior level in Russia is very strong. One has to be really good to break into the top echelons of the Russian junior ranks. I feel the toughness of the Russian junior system has played a big role in making me the chess player that I am today,” he said.

Surprisingly, for all his connections with Indian players, Anish has only been to India once. He admits that if and when he gets the time, he would love to travel to the country and have first-hand experience with India and Indians. “My knowledge of India is not much; it is all based on what I have heard from my Indian chess friends on the world circuit.” I had the opportunity to compete in India on two occasions. However, I had to withdraw at the last minute. I will soon come over and spend time travelling the length and breadth of the country,” he said.

Chacko Saji

With nearly two decades of experience in sports journalism, Saji Chacko is one of the few English media journalists who has had a chequered career across the three main media platforms i.e. print, television and digital. He has done a lot of human interest sports stories and is currently working on the biography of a famous sportsperson.

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