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Home » Sports » Chess-Thumping: As India Gets Its 73rd Grandmaster, Ode to Chess Prodigies & Tamil Connect


Chess-Thumping: As India Gets Its 73rd Grandmaster, Ode to Chess Prodigies & Tamil Connect

Indian Grandmasters
India's first and 73rd Grandmasters Vishwanathan Anand (left) and Bharath Subramaniyam. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

IF YOU placed one Indian Grandmaster (GM) on each square of the chessboard, you’d have nine to spare. India got its 73rd GM in 14-year-old Bharath Subramaniyam on Sunday when the teenager secured the third and final GM norm at an event in Italy. He finished seventh overall in the event by scoring 6.5 points from nine rounds.

The teenager from Chennai is the first GM of the year for India. Let me elaborate on that. In 2021, India added 6 GMs to its list. In fact, the 72nd GM, Mitrabha Guha, won the title just two months ago, in November 2021.

India’s chess statistics are interesting, sample these.

After Viswanathan Anand became the first Indian Grandmaster in 1988, in the next 10 years, there were only two more GMs from India – Dibyendu Barua in 1991 and Pravin Thipsay in 1997.

However, from 2000 to 2010, India saw 17 GMs being crowned. In the following decade, India added 45 to the list. Since the pandemic broke out in 2020, India has added 8 titles, including Subramaniyam’s win on Sunday.

Minor Sensations 

Subramaniyam started learning chess at the age of five from his father. At seven years of age, he joined the Chess Gurukul in Chennai and trained under 2003 Grandmaster RB Ramesh. On Sunday, when he attained the GM title, Subramaniyam was 14 years 2 months 23 days old.

The game of chess keeps getting younger and Grandmaster titles are now being achieved at the age of 12, 13 and 14 years of age. Interestingly, of over 1,700 total Grandmasters in the world, only 40 of them were under the age of 15 as of June 30, 2021. With Subramaniyam joining the ranks, of them, eight are now Indians.

S NoNameAgeGM Year
1Gukesh Dommaraju12 years, 7 months, 17 days2019
2Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu12 years, 10 months, 13 days2018
3Parimarjan Negi13 years, 4 months, 22 days2006
4Raunak Sadhwani13 years, 9 months, 28 days2019
5Nihal Sarin14 years, 1 month, 1 day2018
6Bharath Subramaniyam14 years, 2 months, 23 days2022
7Aryan Chopra14 years, 9 months, 3 days2017
8Arjun Erigaisi14 years, 11 months, 13 days2018
Tamil Nadu Connection

On Monday, five-time world champion and India’s first Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand congratulated Subramaniyam on Twitter. Separated by 38 years at birth and 34 in the attainment of GM title, both are Chennai-born. In between, there have been 23 GMs from Tamil Nadu, often likened to the ‘Soviet Union’ for its love of chess. In all, the state has produced over one-third of India’s Grandmasters.

S NoNameGM Year
1Viswanathan Anand1988
2Krishnan Sasikiran2000
3Ramachandran Ramesh2003
4Magesh Chandran Panchanathan2006
5J Deepan Chakkravarthy2006
6Subramanian Arun Prasad2008
7RR Laxman2009
8Sundararajan Kidambi2009
9Baskaran Adhiban2010
10SP Sethuraman2011
11MR Venkatesh2012
12M Shyam Sundar2013
13V Vishnu Prasanna2013
14Karthikeyan Murali2015
15Chithambaram Aravindh2015
16Priyadharshan Kannappan2016
17Srinath Narayanan2017
18Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa2018
19P Karthikeyan2019
20P Iniyan2019
21NR Visakh2019
22Gukesh D2019
23G Akash2020
24Arjun Kalyan2021
25Bharath Subramaniyam2022

While India’s growth in chess over the decades has been nothing less than phenomenal, the sport is still niche. When Subramaniyam became the latest Grandmaster, the lack of popularity was conspicuous by the absence of congratulatory tweets, other than from its own fraternity, that usually greet international accolades in other sporting arenas.

However, the sport does enjoy a dedicated following in India, and more and more enthusiasts are taking up chess.

The drivers are clear to see. Access to advanced coaching and high levels of participation, as the numbers prove it, are clearly making a difference. Anand once told ESPN, “More people taking up chess, which is also pushing more players higher, it’s a sort of pyramid effect.”

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Complete list of Indian Grandmasters so far

S NoNameGM Year
1Viswanathan Anand1988
2Dibyendu Barua1991
3Pravin Thipsay1997
4Abhijit Kunte200
5K Sasikiran2000
6Pentala Harikrishna2001
7Koneru Humpy2002
8Surya Sekhar Ganguly2003
9Sandipan Chanda2003
10RB Ramesh2004
11Tejas Bakre2004
12P Magesh Chandran2006
13Deepan Chakravarthy2006
14Neelotpal Das2006
15Parimarjan Negi2006
16GN Gopal2007
17Abhijeet Gupta2008
18S Arun Prasad2008
19S Kidambi2009
20RR Laxman2009
21Sriram Jha2010
22Deep Sengupta2010
23B Adhiban2010
24SP Sethuraman2011
25Harika Dronavalli2011
26Lalit Babu2012
27Vaibhav Suri2012
28MR Venkatesh2012
29Sahaj Grover2012
30Vidit Gujarathi2013
31Shyam Sundar2013
32Akshyaraj Kore2013
33Vishnu Prasanna2013
34Debashis Das2013
35Saptarshi Chowdhury2013
36Ankit Rajpara2014
37Aravindh Chitambaram2015
38Karthikeyan Murali2015
39Ashwin Jayaram2015
40Swapnil Dhopade2015
41SL Narayanan2015
42Shardul Gagare2016
43Diptayan Ghosh2016
44Priyadarshan K2016
45Aryan Chopra2017
46Srinath Narayanan2017
47Himanshu Sharma2017
48Anurag Mhamal2017
49Abhimanyu Puranik2017
50Thejkumar MS2017
51Saptarshi Roy2018
52R Praggnanandhaa2018
53Nihal Sarin2018
54Erigaisi Arjun2018
55Karthik Venkataraman2018
56Harsha Bharathakoti2018
57P Karthikeyan2018
58Stany GA2018
59Vikash NR2019
60D Gukesh2019
61P Iniyan2019
62Swayams Mishra2019
63Girish Koushik2019
64Prithu Gupta2019
65Raunak Sadhwani2019
66G Akash2020
67Leon Mendonca2021
68Arjun Kalyan2021
69Harshit Raja2021
70Raja Rithvik2021
71Sankalp Gupta2021
72Mitrabha Guha2021
73Bharath Subramaniyam2022

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