On Sunday (27-10-2013) India moved up and joined France as the No.1 ranked chess nation in terms of FIDE rated players. India rose to 35200 and this number will be moving back and forth in the next few days until November when India is expected to be No.1.
Strangely, 35,200 is the same as France, the leader for over ten years. India is growing steeply and France was growing moderately. This had to happen. This week, one can expect India to surge ahead of the French number and never look back! Asia set to rule world chess.
About four decades back, India had just Manuel Aaron on the rating list. People still remember him since his name was the first entry in the rating list for many decades. For many years he was the only Indian and later among the few Indians.
Since, Anand won the World Junior in 1987 and then went on to became World Champion in Tehran 2000, the numbers tended to grow sharply. More players took to the game in the summer of 2001 and the progress kept growing.
Anand might be the primary cause for all this but the organisers, particularly, the All India Chess Federation did plenty of ground work. Rated events were organised all over the country and particularly more in the state of Tamil Nadu, Anand’s home state.
In Europe, when Veselin Topalov emerged, Bulgaria’s mobile networks supported elite events. In India it was even more basic. The NIIT together with many state Governments supported school chess. On its part, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu went several steps ahead and cleared the way for chess in schools programme. Children in the age group 7-17 play chess in Tamil Nadu. Many states have chess in schools programme but Tamil Nadu is one step ahead. They also practically implement it.
Two years back, India had overtaken the Germans and the Russians in the rating list. Earlier this year, the Indians went past Spain. Now, when experts were expecting India to get the better of France around March 2014, this sudden surge in the chess activity related to the world championship has helped India go past or equal France in October.
India’s growth style is pyramid. Our base is broad. A recent study related article in The Economist said more Indians play chess than any other nation. This number comes as no surprise. But that it came a few months before needs to be analysed since we might be observing a 2013 wave on the back of this Anand v Carlsen match which could be several times bigger than the 2001 Anand wave after he won the world title in 2000.
The AICF and its administrators have laid a perfect platform for chess to grow in the land which invented the game. Our style will soon be copied by leading lights and European nations. Anand is in his final phase of preparation and not available to react to this good news. “It is all team effort,” said V Hariharan, Honorary Secretary of the All India Chess Federation while reacting to this news. “This is great news,” said Bharat Singh, CEO of the AICF. D.V. Sundar, Vice President of FIDE was delighted about the timing of this achievement as India is making the final touches to the organising of the Anand v Carlsen match from Nov 7-28.