Indian chess grandmaster Viswanathan Anand has stated that chess is one of the sports that has gained popularity during the COVID-19 lockdown. In an interview with PTI, the 51-year-old chess maestro also spoke about the growth of online chess.
2020 put the breaks on almost every sporting event this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, chess gained immense popularity during the lockdown that followed as millions started to play the sport online. Multiple international chess tournaments were also played online this year.
Viswanathan Anand has stated the sport will continue to grow because of the popularity of online chess during the lockdown.
"Certainly chess is one sport that has benefited during the lockdown, as cruel as it sounds. Actually, we can build on that and grow the sport," said Viswanathan Anand.
Vishwanathan Anand speaks on whether online chess should continue permanently
Online website chess.com had earlier reported in June that the number of new members grew by a million people a month in 2020. The stats revealed that the number of people joining the platform had tripled from last year's numbers.
During the pandemic, Netflix released a drama called The Queen's Gambit, which has resulted in viewers playing and watching the sport. The number of users on chess.com recently hit the 50 million mark on December 27th.
Although Viswanathan Anand is happy to see the growth of online chess but is unsure of whether tournaments should be held digitally after the pandemic is over.
"I hope not but I don't know... we will see what happens. It will be nice to grow chess online but it would be a pity to move the other lines. We have to see what happens once the virus is under control. Whether it is a long-term trend or a short-term one I don't know," said Anand.
Viswanathan Anand became the first Indian grandmaster in 1988. He still holds a top-15 rank in FIDE's rating list and has been a versatile player known for his resilience and consistency during tournaments.
Anand stated that he misses playing across the board as the intensity created in a tournament helps him remain concentrated.
"I definitely miss that," Viswanathan Anand said. "I found that, normally, when you go to a tournament, there are triggers which help make you serious, make you concentrate."
Anand added how such 'triggers' are absent while playing the sport online, because of which he misses playing chess on board.
"You walk to the tournament hall, you meet other players at the hotel. All these things are triggers that a tournament is going to happen. When it comes to playing online, you are sitting at home, and suddenly, the arbiter says start and you begin playing, I do miss playing across the board," revealed Anand.Published 29 Dec 2020, 03:36 IST