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Viswanathan Anand launches WACA Chess Fellowships to mentor India’s chess champions

Viswanathan Anand launches WACA Chess Fellowships to mentor India’s chess champions

The Bridge Desk

Published: 9 Dec 2020 9:29 AM GMT

WestBridge Capital, under the umbrella of its public charitable trust, WestBridge Charitable Foundation, is set to launch a chess fellowship program, in partnership with Chess Maestro and former World Champion, Grand Master (GM) Viswanathan Anand, establishing the WestBridge-Anand Chess Academy (WACA).

WestBridge-Anand Chess Academy is poised to create a platform to facilitate mentorship to both established and upcoming/ aspiring players with the aim to promote the sport of intellect in the country and ‘pass the baton’, to produce more world champions for India in the game of chess. WestBridge in partnership with GM Anand, aims to identify deserving candidates every year, with the potential to break into the top world chess ranking, and grant fellowships to propel these young chess champs, designated as WACA Fellows, towards greater glory and milestones. With mentoring from GM Anand and his team of experts and WestBridge’s monetary support, WestBridge-Anand Chess Academy, in addition to providing the thrust to help them excel in the sport, also hopes to positively impact the lives of the WACA Fellows by rewarding them for their achievements.

Talking about the initiative, Viswanathan Anand, Indian Chess Grandmaster, and five-time World Champion, said, “Chess has made a lot of progress in the last twenty years. I think many players in the country have the potential, under the right guidance, to make it to the top ten and even become World Champions. It is heartening to see firms like WestBridge come forward and support the sport to shape the future of Chess in the country.”

R Praggnanandhaa (Image: Praggnanandhaa/Facebook)

The initial list of grantees of the WACA Fellowship include Grandmasters: R. Praggnanandhaa (15 years old with rating 2608), Nihal Sarin (16 years old with rating 2620), G M Raunak Sadhwani (15 years old with rating 2545), D. Gukesh (14 years old with rating 2563) and R. Vaishali (19 years old, with rating 2393) who is R. Praggnanandhaa’s sister. Nihal and Praggnanandhaa are ranked 11th and 12th in the Classical Chess under-20 category while Gukesh and Raunak are 26th and 32nd respectively. Vaishali stands 9th in the Girl U-20 category. Moreover, Vaishali and Nihal have secured a 3rd and the 4th spot in Blitz Chess category. The WACA Fellows have proved themselves at various levels and have a huge potential to secure the highest global ranking in the game.

“We are thrilled to partner with the chess legend himself, the man who carved a name for India in the global chess circuit. In comparison to many other sports in India, chess possibly has fewer opportunities to get the right mentorship and sponsorship. With the WestBridge-Anand Chess Academy, we are taking a step with a vision to make India prominently visible in global chess circuits.” said Sandeep Singhal, co-founder and Managing Director, WestBridge Capital.

Given the current Covid-19 situation, the mentorship activities will be conducted virtually for now. GM Anand believes that the current situation works well and provides an ideal opportunity for the candidates to recognise, focus, and work on their areas of deficiency which will in turn set them up well to achieve the long-term goals. “It is true that while caught in the world of tournaments and competitions, one tends to work on short fixes, rather than work on resolving the issue in a broader long-term context,” said GM Anand. The launch of WestBridge-Anand Chess Academy is hence at an opportune time and hopes to keep the mind and skills of the WACA Fellows sharp and ready to go full throttle for when the global chess competitive circuits open up

The WestBridge-Anand Chess Academy proposes to adopt a dynamic form of mentoring to adapt to what works best for the candidates and will transition to offline training, interactions, and mentorship sessions as deemed fit and under expert coach and faculty recommendations. For now, some of the trainers identified to help out include known and established trainers like FIDE Senior Trainer German Grandmaster, Artur Jussupow, Polish Grandmaster, Grzegorz Gajewski , an expert in opening preparation and another of India’s very own Grandmaster, Sandipan Chanda from Kolkata, known for his creative play.All of them have been part of GM Anand’s World Championship endeavours.

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