Making Chess Popular

In India cricket is extremely popular and the best rewarded sport compared to other sports. And when I look at some other countries, I must admit that India seems like a good model to follow as far as motivating sports professionals, and this includes chess players. Financial support and a good environment is provided from an early age.

Let’s talk about professionals and the financial stability needed to motivate them. Vishy Anand is one of our national heroes but almost all IMs and GMs are highly respected and financially stable. You can’t expect them to spend their valuable time developing chess across society if they are not making enough bucks. In India you can even find many players around 2000 rating with permanent government jobs, and they are given special privileges to play chess regularly. They have been selected based on their chess talent, and of course there are some quotas assigned for this. But at least this provides some motivation to work on chess rather than put it aside for academic studies.

Let’s talk about kids and the good environment and financial support they receive. If a kid performing well at city or district level they will be backed financially by the government. In my city there are many students who are getting financial support every month. This even motivates their parents too. Of course there are some selection criteria to meet. Even last year Gujarat state chess association had hired two Russian trainers to coach them.

This does seem to be a lot better than many other countries and perhaps explains why India is producing so many good players.

Ashvin Chauhan