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Viswanathan Anand recalls SP Balasubrahmanyam as his “first sponsor” in Chess Nationals

Viswanathan Anand recalls SP Balasubrahmanyam as his “first sponsor” in Chess Nationals

The Bridge Desk

Published: 25 Sep 2020 8:45 AM GMT

Legendary singer SP Balasubramanyam, who had tested positive for Covid-19 , passed away On Friday at the age of 74. He was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Chennai and was admitted there on August 5 after he showed mild Covid-19 symptoms. However, in the last 24 hours, his condition had deteriorated further, warranting maximal life support. The nation is in shock following the demise of a celebrated musician, his fans express their grief. Social media is flooded with condolences, from celebrities and fans of the late musician.

SPB, as his fans called him, has sung more than 40,000 songs since then in more than 5 different Indian languages, including Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam. He holds the world record in the Guinness Book of World Records for having sung the most number of song recordings by any singer. SPB has sung several private albumsr also.

Besides his singing charisma, many don't know the humanitarian side of the singer and it was reflected in his contribution to sports as well, particularly in Tamil Nadu. On his demise, legendary chess player Viswanathan Anand tweeted:

"Really sad to hear about the passing away of such a great yet simple person. He was my first sponsor! He sponsored our team Chennai Colts in the national team championship in 1983. One of the nicest persons I have met. His music gave us such joy #RIPSPB"

Indeed, during 1983-84 Anand broke into India's chess scene as a mighty force. He first won the Tamil Nadu State Junior Championship and finished fifth at the National Sub Junior Championship the same year. During this time, Chennai saw plenty of talented chess players in the city, the legacy of which continues till date. In May 1983, the Madras District Chess Association (MDCA) decided to field a special team of teenagers in the National Team Chess Championship in Bombay. They wanted the youngsters to get exposure to all the big names of Indian chess. However, they lacked in fundings. It was then, SP Balasubrahmanyam to the rescue. The president of MDCA Dr Arudra got Mr Balasubrahmanyam to sponsor the Madras Colts Team to the tournament.

Anand scored 3.5/4 in the first board of the tournament and won against Manual Aaron. He won the board prize for best performance at the top board thus picking a qualifying spot for the National ‘B’ Championship, in 1983.

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