Chess, a timeless game of strategy and intellect, has found a special place in the hearts of millions around the world. Rooted in ancient India as Chaturanga, chess has evolved into a global phenomenon, captivating minds and pushing the boundaries of human intelligence. In this comprehensive article, we present an in-depth exploration of the remarkable journey of chess grandmasters in India, their contributions, and the evolving landscape of the game within the nation.
Chess in India
Dating back centuries, the roots of chess traced to the Indian game of Chaturanga, which embodied the elements of strategy and competition that define modern chess. Over time, the game travelled beyond Indian shores and evolved into the globally revered pastime we know today. However, it was not until the late 20th century that India truly began to shine on the international chess stage. Following we have listed some of the top 10 Indian Chess Grandmasters that have gained global recognition for their intellect and mastery in the field of chess.
Vishwanath Anand: World Chess Champion and an Indian Grandmaster
Viswanathan Anand, from Tamil Nadu, India, stands out in the chess world. His strategic brilliance and unwavering dedication have earned him a distinguished place. Anand’s journey to becoming a five-time World Chess Champion showcases his remarkable skills and tenacity.
Anand’s chess journey started young, displaying innate strategic talent. In 1988, he became India’s first chess grandmaster, marking a new era. His achievements go beyond titles; they show his ability to consistently outwit opponents.
Anand’s impact stretches beyond victories. He lifted India’s global chess status, inspiring players to explore the game. His humility and sportsmanship gained respect, making him a chess ambassador.
Beyond the board, Anand’s influence persists. He mentors and contributes to the chess community. Anand’s journey is inspiring, showing the power of dedication. His name is in chess history, reminding us that with determination, challenges can be conquered.
2. Pentala Harikrishna
Pentala Harikrishna, originating from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, achieved a historic feat by becoming the youngest Indian Grandmaster in 2001 after emerging victorious in the Commonwealth Championship. His list of accomplishments includes triumphs in the World Junior Championship of 2004 and the Asian Individual Championship of 2011. Harikrishna’s contributions to the chess arena extended to representing India in seven Chess Olympiads, spanning the years from 2000 to 2012.
In a remarkable turn of events, Harikrishna’s live Elo rating reached an impressive 2763.3 in 2016, surpassing even the iconic Vishwanathan Anand and thus becoming the first Indian player to do so in three decades. Elevating his stature further, he secured a FIDE rating of 276, earning a place among the world’s top ten players in 2016. As of now, Pentala Harikrishna proudly holds a world ranking of 2719, a testament to his remarkable contributions and enduring excellence in the world of chess.
3. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi
Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, born in Nashik, Maharashtra, etched his mark on the chess world by clinching the U-14 World Youth Chess Championship in 2008, earning the distinguished title of an International Master. His prowess continued to shine, securing a victory at the World Youth Chess Championship in 2009. Vidit’s journey towards becoming a Grandmaster commenced with his first G.M. norm in the U-20 category during the 2011 World Youth Chess Championship.
In January 2013, Gujrathi, merely 18 years old, achieved the esteemed title of Grandmaster. He further solidified his position with a bronze medal at the U-20 World Junior Chess Championship held in Turkey. Notably, Vidit Gujrathi is the fourth Indian chess player with an impressive current world ranking of 2726 as per FIDE’s evaluations.
Vidit’s exceptional journey from an early World Youth Chess Championship win to attaining the coveted Grandmaster title demonstrates his unwavering dedication and strategic brilliance in the world of chess. His achievements and steadfast commitment continue to make him a noteworthy figure in the world of competitive chess.
4. Bhaskaran Adhiban
Bhaskaran Adhiban, hailing from Tamil Nadu, emerged as a prominent chess figure in 2007 by clinching victory at the U-16 Asian Championship held in Tashkent. His prowess continued to shine as he secured the U-16 World Youth Championship title in 2008, followed by a triumphant win at the 47th Premier National Chess Championship in 2009.
Stepping onto the international stage, Adhiban proudly represented India at the 2010 Asian Games, where he secured a commendable bronze medal for the nation. In 2016, he showcased his strategic brilliance by clinching victory three times in the Tata Steel Challenges tournament, solidifying his reputation as a formidable chess player. A milestone achievement awaited him in 2018 when he triumphed at the 33rd Reykjavik Open tournament in Iceland, becoming the second Indian to secure this prestigious title.
Adhiban’s current world rating as per FIDE stands at an impressive 2671, a testament to his exceptional skills and dedication in the world of competitive chess. His journey from domestic championships to international victories highlights his journey of growth, excellence, and commitment to the game.
5. Krishnan Sasikiran
Krishnan Sasikiran, a distinguished chess player also hailing from Tamil Nadu, embarked on his chess journey under the guidance of his father at the age of 9. His inherent talent and dedication soon led to remarkable achievements, with him securing victory at the Indian Chess Championship an impressive four times in 1999, 2002, 2003, and 2013. His prowess extended to international grounds as well, as he emerged victorious at the 1999 Asian Junior Chess Championship held in Vietnam.
The year 2000 marked a significant milestone for Sasikiran as he earned the coveted Grandmaster title at the Commonwealth Championship in Sangli. His strategic brilliance and determination shone through as he clinched victory at the Hastings International Chess tournament. Beyond individual accomplishments, Sasikiran has been an asset to the Indian chess team, contributing to their triumph in the 2006 Asian Games team event where he secured the gold medal. Additionally, his participation played a pivotal role in India’s bronze win at the 2014 Chess Olympiad.
6. S. P. Sethuraman
Hailing from the vibrant city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, S. P. Sethuraman’s journey in the world of chess began with a notable victory – the Asian U-12 Chess Championship in 2004. This early success laid the foundation for his future accomplishments in the world of competitive chess. His participation in international competitions included representing India at the World U-16 Championship in Antalya in 2009, showcasing his dedication to honing his skills on a global stage.
A significant milestone in Sethuraman’s chess career was his participation in the Chess World Cup in 2015, which highlighted his ability to compete at the highest level of the sport. His prowess extended to the domestic scene as well, as he clinched victory at the Indian National Premier Championship in the same year. The Grandmaster’s strategic acumen and tactical precision further came to the fore when he secured the title at the Asian Chess Championship held in Tashkent.
With a FIDE ranking of 2644, S. P. Sethuraman’s dedication to the game is reflected in his consistent performance and continuous pursuit of excellence. His journey from his early triumphs to his current standing is a testament to his commitment to the world of chess and his unwavering passion for the game.
7. Chithambaram Aravindh
Chithambaram Aravindh, a chess prodigy hailing from Tamil Nadu, stands as a testament to the prowess of young Indian chess players. Being the youngest Indian Chess Grandmaster, his journey to the pinnacle of chess excellence began with remarkable achievements at a tender age.
Notably, Aravindh’s exceptional performance earned him the second position in the World U-14 Chess Championship in 2012. At the age of 12, he fastened victory in the U-19 National Championship, showcasing his remarkable skill set.
In 2013, he marked a significant milestone by securing his first GM norm, a critical step on his journey to becoming a Grandmaster. His strategic acumen and focused approach propelled him to win the prestigious Chennai Grandmaster International Open, further affirming his status as a rising chess star. Aravindh’s dedication bore fruit as he earned the International Master title in 2014, followed by the prestigious Grandmaster title in 2015.
With a FIDE rating of 2641, Chithambaram Aravindh’s remarkable journey from a young talent to a Grandmaster embodies the spirit of determination and excellence in the world of chess. His achievements inspire aspiring chess players and stand as a testament to the boundless possibilities that the game offers to those who dare to dream.
8. Parimarjan Negi
Parimarjan Negi, a prodigious talent in the world of chess, carved his name in history as one of the youngest Grandmasters ever. Hailing from India, Negi’s meteoric rise in the chess world was marked by extraordinary achievements at an incredibly young age.
At the remarkable age of 13, Negi’s prowess and dedication culminated in achieving his grandmaster norm, an achievement that placed him among the sixth youngest grandmasters in the annals of chess history. His rapid ascent continued as he secured both the Indian and Asian champion titles, showcasing his ability to triumph on both regional and continental platforms.
A defining moment in Negi’s career was when he shattered records set by the illustrious Pentala Harikrishna, earning the distinction of becoming the second-youngest grandmaster in India. This feat underscored his exceptional skill set and his potential to make a lasting impact in the world of chess.
The recognition of Negi’s remarkable achievements came in the form of the Arjuna Award in 2010, a prestigious accolade that acknowledged his outstanding contributions to Indian chess. Further cementing his status as a force to be reckoned with, Negi clinched victory at the 11th Asian Chess Championship held in Ho Chi Minh City in 2012, showcasing his mastery on an international stage.
With a current FIDE ranking of 2639, Parimarjan Negi’s journey continues to inspire young chess enthusiasts around the world. His achievements stand as a testament to the boundless possibilities that passion, dedication, and a strategic mind can unlock in the world of chess.
9. Surya Shekhar Ganguly
Ganguly’s journey into the world of chess began with a bang as he secured his International Master title at the age of 16, showcasing his exceptional grasp of the game’s complexities. This was followed by the attainment of his Grandmaster norm at the age of 19, underscoring his dedication and prowess.
Beyond his impressive titles, Ganguly’s collection of medals reads like a testament to his enduring excellence. His trophy cabinet boasts an astounding tally of 40 individual gold medals, 21 individual silver medals, and 6 individual bronze medals garnered from National and International chess tournaments. Notably, his prowess extends to team competitions as well, with an enviable collection of 12 gold, 4 silver, and 3 bronze medals.
Ganguly’s recent triumphs continue to add lustre to his legacy. His victories include individual gold in the 2019 Hunan International Open, a prestigious accolade that showcased his international prowess. He further secured individual gold in the 2019 World Team Championship in Kazakhstan, proving his mettle on the global stage. Domestically, he clinched gold in the 2019 National Team Championship in Kolkata, reinforcing his stature as a national treasure.
Notable among his achievements are the bronze medals in the 2019 Binhai International Open held in China and the 2018 Asian Team Championship in Classical and Rapid in Iran. These milestones highlight Ganguly’s consistency and adaptability across diverse formats of the game.
With a FIDE rating of 2625, Surya Shekhar Ganguly continues to be a force to be reckoned with in the world of chess. His unwavering dedication, strategic brilliance, and numerous triumphs collectively paint a picture of a player who has left an indelible mark on the global chess landscape.
10. Nihal Sarin
Hailing from the picturesque state of Kerala, Nihal Sarin has taken the chess world by storm with his exceptional prowess and remarkable achievements that negate his age. As a chess prodigy, he has shattered records and captivated enthusiasts with his strategic brilliance.
At the young age of 14, a feat that places him among the youngest players in chess history to achieve this monumental milestone. Even more remarkable is his status as the fourth-youngest player in chess history to breach the illustrious Elo rating of 2600, a remarkable achievement he accomplished at just 14 years of age.
In 2019, Nihal’s meteoric rise continued as he became the youngest Indian to participate in the World Cup at the age of 15. His journey through the tournament was marked by success, as he advanced to the second round, showcasing his mettle on the grandest stage of them all.
The year 2020 saw Nihal’s reputation soar even higher with a series of stunning victories. He played a pivotal role in securing gold for the Indian team in the prestigious 2020 FIDE Chess Olympiad, a testament to his prowess and his contribution to his nation’s chess legacy. Not content with just team victories, Nihal also clinched the U-18 World Youth Championship held online in 2020 in the rapid format, further cementing his status as a versatile and tenacious player.
With a FIDE rating of 2620, Nihal Sarin stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration for aspiring chess enthusiasts around the world. His remarkable achievements at such a young age speak volumes about his dedication, intellect, and strategic acumen, making him a force to be reckoned with in the dynamic world of chess.