Editorial > The Incredible Rise of The Indian Chess Grandmasters

The Incredible Rise of The Indian Chess Grandmasters

Dais Editorial | 10/04/2022 06:30 PM

“Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy.” 

-Siegbert Tarrasch

Chess is India’s gift to the world. It is believed that the game initially originated here in the 8th century and since then has taken over the world like a storm. 

When we think of the term ‘Grandmaster,’ names like the national hero Vishwanathan Anand and Bobby Fischer for the cult classic ‘Searching for Bobby Fischer’ pop into our heads.

But how does one achieve the rank of a Grandmaster?

The world chess organization FIDE rewards this title to the chess players they find worthy by analysing ratings and a lot more. Other than the World Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a player could earn which sticks with the player’s name for life. While ratings are established by going head-to-head against other players considering the ratings of both the players followed by averaging out the ratings of all the opponents one has faced. They’re calculated after the tournament or a match is over. All the grandmasters we see today have started young, worked hard, played tournaments, scored the three norms and earned a 2500 FIDE rating. 

The title of Grandmaster requires rigorous training, sacrifices, and obsessive focus which could be toxic to an individual’s life. But it’s a price the players are willing to pay for their nation and the glorious title.

A wise man once said ‘anybody can play chess as long as they’re willing to work hard'. It is not just grown men in our nation that have been dominating the sport at the global level, women and child prodigies too are taking the spotlight at the game. All we have to do is to look at the sensational 16-year-old Wizkid Rameshbabu Praggnanandha who did the impossible task of defeating the 31-year-old International Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen (then ranked 1st in the world) in just 39 moves. A true chess prodigy! Rameshbabu is the fifth-youngest person to ever achieve the title of Grandmaster in the history of the sport. 

It would be unjust to forget to mention the likes of...

Koneru Humpy

In 2020, Koneru won the BBC sportswomen of the year award.

She is known for the FIDE rapid women’s chess championship in 2019. At the age of 15 in 2002 she achieved the title of Grandmaster in Chess. In 2020, Koneru won the BBC sportswomen of the year award.



Nihal Sarin 

Nihal Sarin achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of 14 in 2018. He won the Under-18 World Youth Championship held online in 2020. Sarin was the youngest player to play the World Cup for India in 2019.

Vantika Agrawal 

Vantika Agrawal receives the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement in Chess from President Pranab Mukherjee.

In 2021, Vantika achieved the title of Grandmaster from FIDE. She has won the Bronze medal in the World Youth Chess Championship in the Under-14 girl’s age group. She was named the Woman International Grandmaster in 2017.

Viswanathan Anand

Viswanathan Anand is a five-time world chess champion.

The man, the myth, the legend Viswanathan Anand has conquered everything there is to conquer in the chess world.  From winning the FIDE World Rapid Chess Championship in 2003 and 2017, the World Blitz Cup in 2000, and numerous other top-level rapid and blitz events to being the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1991–92, India's highest sporting honour, Anand has it all!

Each is the leading grandmaster in their division.

India has been posting unreal numbers in this domain, having a total of 73 Grandmasters and 125 International Masters. It is the 4th highest ranked country after Russia, the United States and China. Up until 2010, India had a total of 23 Grandmasters, but that number has sky-rocketed to 73 since then. Padma Vibhushan Viswanathan Anand became the first Indian to win the title of ‘GrandMaster’ in 1988. And since then, the nation hasn’t looked back with the rise of 22 additional Grandmasters, including a female Grandmaster of just 22 years.

Ever since then, India has produced chess Grandmasters at an astonishing staggering rate. A total of 49 Grandmasters have risen from India between 2011 to November 9, 2021. For a decade, the stats are mind-boggling!

In the past few decades, India has opened borders for international travel, enabling more players to travel worldwide and take an active part in chess competitions and tournaments. The ease of getting a visa has also been a contributing factor to the rising numbers of Grandmasters in India. 

Alongside this, the rise of the internet has encouraged children and adults to play chess, sharpen their knowledge through online courses and available reading materials and hone their skills by playing online with anonymous players from abroad countries. 

The game has also gained grassroot popularity in India, as several schools in Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have introduced chess as a part of the schools’ curriculum. Today, India has around 10,000 official chess players and the numbers are growing at an exponential rate. 

However, the game still has a long road towards gaining popularity nationwide. In a country that is populated with cricket fanatics, which has also emerged as a billion-dollar industry in India, the popularity of cricket often comes as compensation for other games. Poor infrastructure, lack of trained mentors, good sponsors, lack of monetary incentives and other resources are some of the major challenges that are withholding the rapid growth of chess in India. 

Even though changes are much expected, it is foolish to not acknowledge the rapid ascend of India in the global rankings. We suggest everybody keep an eye out for the next Indian chess prodigy, for there are many in waiting for the right moment to strike and they can check-mate the Whole Chess World.


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Here is a list of all Indian Grandmasters as on 10 Apr 2022:

1) Vishwanathan Anand, Tamil Nadu, 1988 

2) Dibyendu Barua, West Bengal 1991 

3) Pravin Thipsay, Maharashtra 1997 

4) Abhijit Kunte, Maharashtra 2000 

5) Krishnan Sasikiran, Tamil Nadu 2000 

6) Pentala Harikrishna, Andhra Pradesh 2001 

7) Koneru Humpy, Andhra Pradesh 2002 

8) Surya Sekhar Ganguly, West Bengal 2003 

9) Sandipan Chanda, West Bengal 2003 

10) Ramachandran Ramesh, Tamil Nadu 2004 

11) Tejas Bakre, Gujarat 2004 

12) Magesh Chandran Panchanathan, Tamil Nadu 2006 

13) Deepan Chakravarthy, Tamil Nadu 2006 

14) Neelotpal Das, West Bengal 2006 

15) Parimarjan Negi, Delhi 2006 

16) Geetha Narayanan Gopal, Kerala 2007 

17) Abhijeet Gupta, Rajasthan 2008 

18) Subramanian Arun Prasad, Tamil Nadu 2008 

19) Sundarajan Kidambi, Tamil Nadu 2009 

20) Rajaram R Laxman, Tamil Nadu 2009 

21) Sriram Jha, Delhi 2010 

22) Deep Sengupta, West Bengal 2010 

23) Adhiban Baskaran, Tamil Nadu 2010 

24) Sethuraman Panayappan Sethuraman, Tamil Nadu 2011 

25) Harika Dronavalli, Andhra Pradesh 2011 

26) Musunuri Rohit Lalith Babu, Andhra Pradesh 2012 

27) Vaibhav Suri, Delhi 2012 

28) Marani Rajendran Venkatesh, Tamil Nadu 2012 

29) Sahaj Grover, Delhi 2012 

30) Vidit Gujrathi, Maharashtra 2013 

31 ) Shyam Sundar, Tamil Nadu 2013 

32) Akhshayraj Kore, Maharashtra 2013 

33) Vishnu Prasanna, Tamil Nadu 2013 

34) Debashis Das, Odisha 2013 

35) Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury, West Bengal 2013 

36) Ankit Rajpara, Gujarat 2014 

37) Aravindh Chithambaram, Tamil Nadu 2015 

38) Karthikeyan Murali, Tamil Nadu 2015 

39) Ashwin Jayaram, Tamil Nadu 2015 

40) Swapnil Dhopade, Maharashtra 2015 

41) Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan Kerala 2015 

42) Shardul Gagare Maharashtra 2016 

43) Diptayan Ghosh West Bengal 2016 

44) Priyadarshan Kannappan, Tamil Nadu 2016

45) Aryan Chopra, Delhi 2017 

46) Srinath Narayanan, Tamil Nadu 2017 

47) Himanshu Sharma, Haryana 2017 

48 ) Anurag Mhamal, Goa 2017 

49) Abhimanyu Puranik, Maharashtra 2017 

50) M S Thej Kumar Karnataka 2017 

51 ) Saptarshi Roy West Bengal 2018 

52) Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, Tamil Nadu 2018 

53) Nihal Sarin, Kerala 2018 

54) Erigaisi Arjun, Telangana 2018 

55) Karthik Venkataraman, Telangana 2018 

56) Harsha Bharathakoti, Telangana 2018 

57) Karthikeyan Pandian, Tamil Nadu 2018 

58) Stany George Anthony, Karnataka 2018 

59) Visakh N R, Tamil Nadu 2019 

60) Dommaraju Gukesh, Tamil Nadu 2019 

61) Panneerselvam Iniyan, Tamil Nadu 2019 

62) Swayams Mishra, Odisha 2019 

63) Girish Koushik, Karnataka 2019 

64) Prithu Gupta, Delhi 2019 

65) Raunak Sadhwani, Maharashtra 2019 

66) Akash Ganesan, Tamil Nadu 2020 

67) Leon Mendonca, Goa 2020 

68) Arjun Kalyan, Tamil Nadu 2021 

69) Harshit Raja, Maharashtra August 2021 

70) Raja Rithvik, Telangana September 2021 

71 ) Sankalp Gupta, Maharashtra November 2021 

72) Mitrabha Guha, West Bengal November 2021 

73) Bharath Subramaniyam, Tamil Nadu January 2022

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