AHMEDABAD: Gujarat is planning to give a unique birthday gift to world chess champion Viswanathan Anand. Although his birthday is on December 11, some 20,000 players will gather at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad on December 24 to play chess, and in the process, checkmate Mexico’s Guinness world record of the largest number of chess players playing the game together at the same time.
The chess wizard, who defended his world title against Vaselin Topalov earlier this week, will hopefully be there at the stadium to encourage the players.
El Zocalo, Mexico City’s central square, holds the record with 13,446 players assembling to play chess on October 21, 2006. Former world champion Anatoly Karpov was the guest of honour then. Now, efforts are on to get Anand for the event in Ahmedabad as part of Swarnim Gujarat celebrations.
Gujarat State Chess Association (GSCA) secretary Mayur Patel said, “Today, chess is compulsory in almost all schools of the state. Soon, schools will also have their own chess clubs. Anand’s presence here when Gujarat gets together to create a new world record will do wonders not only for the game, but for Gujarat’s image as well.”
The Gujarat government, NIIT and GSCA also plan to distribute chess CDs to 20 lakh players as part of the event. Gujarat’s only grandmaster Tejas Bakre said, “After Anand’s fourth world crown, there is a debate on whether he is India’s greatest sports icon ever. For Gujarat’s chess players, it can’t get any bigger than Anand coming here.”
In fact, thanks to chess being made compulsory in schools and other initiatives, it has become the fastest growing game in Gujarat after cricket. Players like Ankit Rajpara, Fenil Shah, Hetul Shah, Dhyani Dave are all International Master-norm holders and among top-ranking players in the national circuit. At 9, Hetul was the youngest player to beat a GM when he outplayed Nurlan Ibrayev of Kazakhstan in January 2009 at the 7th Parsvnath International Open Chess Tournament.