Until a few years ago,GM Vishwanathan Anand was the poster boy for the game of chess across the country. However,with the game growing in popularity and more players from India making it big on the international arena,the sport has found a nurturing ground in the city. While the number of homegrown players is on the rise,many players from other states are coming to the city to attend coaching camps as well as to gain some match practice for upcoming international tournaments. Tournaments such as the Weekly Rapidex Chess tournaments have also been instrumental in identifying youngsters with potential.
Russian GM Evgeny Vladimorov,who is currently training a camp comprising the countrys finest up-and-coming talents at the FLAME University campus here,said,An important positive for players here is that they have a good professional attitude for the game. Of course,the bigger players such as Humpy and Harika are very professional about their game but so are youngsters such as Vidit (Gujarati) and others. One of the reasons why Pune has suddenly become a major hub for the game is because more and more coaching camps can take place here. In terms of infrastructure too,it is a good place to work with the players.
Vladimorov added that with more money and sponsorship coming into the game,there is a significant change in the way players look at it. In the recently concluded World Championships at Turkey,India finished fourth,missing a team medal by a narrow margin. Under-19 player Vidit Gujarati,who earned a Grand Master nomination recently,said,Coaching camps with foreign coaches help because they are well acquainted with the styles used in Europe and China. For me,with the Aeroflot Open and the Moscow Open coming up this year,the main focus has been on the opening and the end game strategy,where many players from the country are weak.
GM Abhijit Kunte,who is also associated with training young players,said,Players from across the country are coming here to play and practice. Coaches are available. Apart from their daily playing time,for six-eight hours daily,the players also work on their fitness regimes.