Chennai: 2013 was a glorious year for Tamil Nadu. From producing many champions in age-group events to staging the world championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Norwegian chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen, TN made a mark for itself.
Five-time world champion Anand may have lost his crown to world no. 1 Carlsen in November this year in Chennai, but the Big Match must have sowed the seeds to create a second chess revolution in the country.
Anand, who single-handedly took India to global prominence in the game of 64 squares, had a poor year, but then, the little Anands madebreakthroughs at the world and Asian levels to maintain India’s upward mobility in the mind game. Further, the Anand-Carlsen match proved that the country was capable of organising world level events.
The milestone world championship was possible mainly due to the generous sponsorship of `29 crore allotted by Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa. The CM, who has always been at the forefront for developing sports in the state, also paved way for organising several open, GM and WGM events during the world match.
In the GM event staged in Chennai, Madurai boy Vr. Aravindh Chithambaram came of age by pocketing the title ahead of 21 GMs, 5 WGMs, 30 IMs and 3 WIMs. The 14-year-old boy dubbed as Anand-in-the-making also won the Asian U-14 title this year. Like Aravindh, several other children and established players also brought glory to the state in 2013.
Leading the pack were GMs B. Adhiban and K. Sasikiran, who qualified for the world cup chess tournament after finishing fifth and sixth respectively in the Manny Pacquiao Cup Asian continental chess championship. Chennai boy and last year’s national champion G. Akash also made it to the world cup.
At the world cup, Adhiban created a minor upset defeating higher rated GM Evgeny Alekseev of Russia in the first round before bowing out of the competition losing to Hikaru Nakamura of United States in the third round. Among the other TN players, Akash lost in the first round, while Sasikiran reached the second round.
Apart from Anand, the year was also a disappointment for GM S. P. Sethuraman, as he failed to win the world junior title in his last attempt. However, the former world sub-junior champion won two GM tournaments in the Netherlands and Hyderabad.
Earlier, Sethuraman along with WGM S. Meenakshi had won silver for India in the rapid team event at the Asian Indoor Games in Incheon, South Korea. The year also saw the Indian sub-junior team, which had two TN players Karthikeyan Murali and J. A. Gireman winning laurels for the country at the world youth Olympiad.
Among the women, IWM Y. Prathiba, who is now married and settled in New Jersey, won the US Women Open title, while IWM K. Jennitha Anto of Tiruchy burnished India’s reputation when she won the women’s gold medal at the International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA) world individual championship at the Czech Republic.
In the age-category events, L. N. Ram Aravind (Tiruchy), Srija Seshadri (Neyveli) and Chennai players R. Vaishali, C. Lakshmi, Rakshitta Ravi, B. Savithashri, Karthikeyan Murali and R. Praggnanandhaa achieved success at the Asian level. C.G.S.Narayanan, an international composer bagged Brian Harley Award for his three-mover this year.
While the year ended with Anand losing the world title, the success of four TN children — Vaishali, Ram Aravind, N. R. Visakh and G. Jaswant — against the world champion Carlsen in a simultaneous match three months before the Big Match gives hope for the future.