Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday lauded Russian and Indian chess schools that produced players like Indian World Champion Viswanathan Anand.

Viswanathan Anand, who beat Israeli challenger Boris Gelfand to win his fifth World title, met the Russian leader at his Moscow residence here Thursday.

“In India and Russia and in the former Soviet Union, chess schools are probably the best in the world,” Putin told Anand. “Chess has always been a source of pride for our nations.”

Anand won Wednesday’s quick-fire round of four speed chess matches with one win and three ties, after their marathon 12-match series was drawn, with five ties and one win each.

“You went one-on-one, that was impressive,” Putin said.

Anand recognised the role played by the Soviet Union in his formative years, learning the game at a Soviet cultural centre while he was growing up, making the Tretyakov Gallery, one of Russia’s top museums, a fitting venue.

“I enjoyed Russian hospitality to the full extent,” the 42-year-old said.

Gelfand, who grew up in Belarusian capital Minsk, tagged along for the visit and remarked Russia was regaining its place on the world chess stage.

“In the last few years Russia, and Moscow in particular, has returned to its position as the capital of the chess world,” he said. “This match, I think, was the best-organised chess match in history. It will push the development of chess.”

Anand took home the $1.5 million prize and a chess crown sculpture from the Tretyakov, with Gelfand earning $1 million as runner-up.

Anand has held the undisputed title since October 2008, when he defeated Russia’s Vladimir Kramnik in Bonn. He defended it in 2010 by beating Bulgarian opponent Veselin Topalov 6.5-5.5 in Sofia.

Gelfand, 43, gained the right to become the world title contender after a win last May against Russia’s Alexander Grischuk at a contenders’ tournament in Kazan, Russia.

Russian billionaire and Gelfand’s school friend Andrey Filatov paid $7 million from his own pocket to hold the event in one of the halls of the Tretyakov Gallery before some 400 spectators.

 

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