Former World Champion Viswanathan Anand and WestBridge Capital, under the umbrella of its public charitable trust, WestBridge Charitable Foundation, is set to launch a chess fellowship program by establishing the WestBridge-Anand Chess Academy (WACA).
WACA is poised to create a platform to facilitate mentorship to both established and upcoming/aspiring players with the aim to promote the sport of intellect in the country and 'pass the baton', to produce more world champions for India in chess.
The academy aims to identify deserving candidates every year, with the potential to break into the top world chess ranking, and grant fellowships to propel these young chess champs, designated as WACA Fellows, towards greater glory and milestones.
Talking about the initiative, Anand said, "Chess has made a lot of progress in the last 20 years. I think many players in the country have the potential, under the right guidance, to make it to the top ten and even become world champions. It is heartening to see firms like WestBridge come forward and support the sport to shape the future of chess in the country."
The initial list of grantees of the WACA fellowship include Grandmasters, R. Praggnanandhaa (15 years old with rating 2608), Nihal Sarin (16 years old with rating 2620), G M Raunak Sadhwani (15 years old with rating 2545), D. Gukesh (14 years old with rating 2563) and R. Vaishali (19 years old, with rating 2393) who is R. Praggnanandhaa's sister.
"With the WestBridge-Anand Chess Academy, we are taking a step with a vision to make India prominently visible in global chess circuits." said Sandeep Singhal, co-founder and Managing Director, WestBridge Capital.
Given the current Covid-19 situation, the mentorship activities will be conducted virtually for now.
For now, some of the trainers identified to help out include FIDE Senior Trainer German Grandmaster, Artur Jussupow, Polish Grandmaster, Grzegorz Gajewski , an expert in opening preparation and another of India's very own Grandmaster, Sandipan Chanda from Kolkata, known for his creative play.