Donning an endearing smile he walked in only to be welcomed by excited students of Smt Parvatibai Chowgule College of Arts and Science that kick-started its Golden Jubilee celebrations yesterday.
An unforgettable interaction with the Indian Grandmaster and 5-time World Chess Champion, Viswanathan Anand, marked the beginning of the golden year. After delivering the welcome address the principal of Chowgule College invited the chief guest, Viswanathan Anand along with the president of Chowgule Education Society, Ashok Chowgule to light the lamp.
‘Vishy’, as his friends and fans call him, began his journey with chess at the age of six. “I lost the first three games and I was given the ‘bye’ signal,’ said the humble Grandmaster. Expressing his special attachment with Goa where he won the sub-junior and junior championship titles he reminisced, “It was in Goa where I actually broke through Indian Chess.”
Pressure mounted on the young champ who was aiming for the Grandmaster title, one that had never been won by an Indian. “I kept aiming for the title and many a time came very close to it. Once I won it, I just stopped aiming for anything more. I began cutting down on goals and was satisfied with just beating Karpov or being third on the chart; but my loss in Germany in the late 90s really taught me that sometimes you need to aim higher to even get an average performance.”
Talking about how he approached challenges; like when one of his prime rivals Topalov tried playing with his psychology by giving disparaging interviews and avoiding him before games he said, “I just thought about him becoming the world champion and I knew I had to stop that. The fact that I knew I would crumble made me strong and I decided to be patient and go with the flow.” His knack of smelling danger and working towards fixing that has brought him this far. He advised, “Always be critical about yourself without losing self confidence.” On being asked about the difficulty in sustaining the title and holding the reins for a long time he said, “It becomes hard when defending the title starts becoming a burden, but you should not over estimate the excitement that chess gives you and should be satisfied when enthusiasm is less too.”
When asked about whether he ever felt like giving up the game for good, he confessed, “I have often felt that way, but I’ve been timely cured. But if the feeling remains for a year or year and a half then I guess it is time to bid goodbye. But generally these feelings, though generated often, do get cured with time.” A parent of a budding chess player asked whether he would like to see his son play the game to which he said, “My parents exposed me to a lot of options and when I chose chess they let me go with it. I will do the same with my son. But what concerns me is the inevitable comparison with me that could affect him, but nonetheless I will be very happy if he chooses to play chess.” Speaking about his role model Mikhail Tal whose chess club was where Viswanathan Anand began his journey with chess he said, “I liked the way he enjoyed the game not only during games, but even off the board when he interacted with young chess lovers.”
Mentioning Ivana Furtado, Goa’s International Girl Chess champion he spoke about how chess is getting popular among the younger generation, “We dominate the under-15 tournaments and along with NIIT I have been trying to encourage various states to include the game in the school curriculum. Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have already started working towards it.” The current world chess champion, who would have taken up astronomy or research if not chess, had the crowd in splits of laughter when he shared an incident at an airport where one of the security guards after trying hard to recollect where he had seen him came up to him and said, “Your previous movie was superb!”
Speaking about the relief he felt after winning the title he said, “I had nothing to worry about. Worrying about what will happen next constantly haunts you. I guess that is why I would like go back to the younger days when we really enjoyed the game. Something we forget to do eventually.”
He concluded on the same note, stressing on the importance of doing what one likes; he said, “It is very difficult to do something you are obliged to do rather than something that is pleasurable to do.” The programme concluded with the launch of the Golden Jubilee Brochure at the hands of the chief guest and an announcement of the upcoming events; an interaction with Cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle being one of them. The vote of thanks was proposed by the vice principal of Chowgule College, Dr Nandkumar Sawant.