Chess won`t become an Olympic sport in my time: Viswanathan Anand

Updated: Jul 17, 2012, 15:49 PM IST

Kochi: World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand has said playing at the Olympics would not happen during his career.

Anand told media here that with chess not being an Olympic sport, and the process of getting it included being a very lengthy one, his playing days would be over when that happens.

"Not really. At the moment, it is pretty remote, and anyway, due to the lag, from acceptance till the day it finally becomes a medal sport; I mean, first you become a demonstration sport, then a medal sport, so there is a huge lag. It essentially does not apply to me anymore. I will not play in the Olympics. It will be well into the future before that happens," Anand said.

Known to his fans as ``Vishy``, Anand also expressed optimism about the current crop of young Indian chess players. He predicted that they would eventually establish themselves among the top players in the world.

"I think it will inevitably follow. We have many people doing it occasionally. I believe eventually somebody will break that thing and just be a stable top-10 player. The nice thing is, it`s happening both in the men`s game and the women`s game. So Koneru Humpy, for instance, is quite stable as number two-number three in the world among women," he said.

Anand further said he was committed to taking his sport to as many schools as possible, in order to increase the existing pool of young chess players, as well as empowering students with skills that would help them in their studies.

"One of the things I focused on in the last eight or nine years is to get chess more into schools. The idea was to increase participation levels in chess, but especially target(ing) young students, based on the idea that chess itself can be very healthy in school, to train certain skills which are useful in studies as well. At the NIIT Mind Champions academy we have now crossed one and a half million students, and that is a big milestone for us," he said.

Anand has achieved the difficult feat of being a sporting icon in a country where the bulk of popularity rests with cricketers. He defeated Israel`s Boris Gelfand in a tiebreaker in Moscow to retain his world championship this May.

The popular Anand, world champion since 2007, won the junior title in 1989 and became India``s first Grand Master at the age of 16. Anand became the first Asian to win the FIDE world chess championship after defeating Spain`s Alexei Shirov in Tehran in 2000.

His title win in 2012 was his fourth in a row -- he also won in 2007, 2008 and 2010.