Pune, May 21: Chess may have remained little behind other sports in launching national franchisee-based league, but the five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand is positive that an initiative such as the Maharashtra Chess League (MCL), which is in its fourth edition, could become a nucleus of chess in India. Aniruddha Deshpande, Chairman, Organising Committee, MCL was also present on this occasion.
“The format of the league is very inclusive and I am sure the MCL will keep growing year by year,” said Anand during an interaction soon after the auction for the 4th edition of MCL was completed at the Amanora Park Town Club house here on Saturday.
“There are lot more players who have taken to chess as a sport. Clearly if there are a lot more initiatives such as the MCL there will be more talent coming up. We need to keep the growing chess players engaged,” said Anand.
Asked whether it was time for franchisee-based national league for chess to start, Anand said that in fact MCL could become a nucleus of the new set up.
“I am happy to be here for the fourth edition of MCL auction. The league has given very good and excellent opportunities to youngsters and also the format is nice,” Anand said of having certain number of Maharashtra players, national players and international players.
“It feels like coming back to the family. I really like the league growing,” he added.
Once again, Anand was categorical in saying that he had no intention to retire anytime in the near future. “This question has been asked many times. I have discovered that I can’t give either answer. I don’t see any reason why I should think about retirement now,” he said. The questions were being asked after he lost being the World Championship challenger to Magnus Carlsen. “My plan is to first look at tournaments and participate in grand chess tour that will take me to Brussels, St. Louis, London and other big cities,” he informed.
“I would definitely like to qualify for the next Candidates Chess which is roughly scheduled in March 2018. However, I will start only next year when the rating clock starts,” Anand said.
Asked whether India was behind in launching chess league the way many European countries have, specially the Bundesliga League of Germany, Anand said it would be difficult to have such leagues in India due to distances. “In Europe you can travel between countries in no time, while in India travelling is a hassle,” said Anand. However, I didn’t play Bundesliga chess to grow as a player but to meet chess minds from all over the world. You get time to discuss, meet GMs, talk chess and their other experiences. I think that should be replicated here at the MCL,” said Anand. He was all for the rapid format for the league saying the old wisdom of playing classical chess is a passé. Even in Classical chess when there is a tie you have to play rapid so by playing rapid in league you are not unlearning anything,” he explained.
No Olympiad for Anand
Anand was categorical not to play in Chess Olympiad, chess’ biggest tournament in terms of number of countries playing rather than the quality of minds. “It’s been done and dusted. I have had my share of playing Olympiads,” said Anand.