As anybody who follows chess blogs knows, Viswanathan Anand won the World Junior Championships 31 years ago, on September 3, 1987, in Baguio City, the Philippines. It was the first time an Indian had won any world title. The Junior is prestigious. Previous winners include Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov and a host of other strong GMs.

That was Anand’s first GM norm. He followed up with two more in quick succession to complete the title and become India’s first Grandmaster. There are now 55 Indian GMs (including two women, many teenagers and one pre-teen) — there’s a list with mugshots at Chessbase India.

If ever an individual was responsible for sparking a sporting revolution, it was Anand. It wasn’t just that he was a world-class player. He was charming, well-behaved, highly educated. His demeanour convinced Indian parents that chess was respectable.

India now has 11 players in the Junior (Under-20) Top 100 list for September 2018 — seven are in the Top 50. Only Russia with 12 players has more. The pipeline is awesome — there are half a dozen Indian juniors with career graphs that suggest they could make it to the very top. A total of 16 Indians are playing the World Juniors in Gebze, Turkey — ten in the Open section and six girls. Obviously, there are medal hopes.

End-September, both teams will be gunning for medals at the Olympiad. At a recent coaching camp in Delhi, the open squad exuded quiet confidence. It will certainly not be easy but both teams are capable of beating any outfit on their day. A little luck and some consistency could be enough.

Meanwhile, the Russian Superfinals ended in ties. The open (average rating 2685) saw Dmitry Andreikin and Dmitry Jakovenko tied with 7.5/11 for the Open. Andreikin won the tiebreaker. Evgeny Tomashevsky (6.5) came third. In the women’s section, Natalia Pogonina and Olga Girya (8/11) tied, with Pogonina winning the tiebreaker. Prizes include a Renault Kaptur for each champion, apart from 9 million rubles (about $130,500) of prize money.

The Diagram, White to Play (White: Alexey Sarana Vs Black: Khismatullin, Russian Superfinals 2018) is an incredible fortress. White loses after normal tries like 51. Bd1 Rc4 52. Ke3 Rc1 53. Kd2 Rb1 54. Kc3 Bf3.

He played 51. Rc1!! Rxc1 52. Kxc1 axb3. A full piece up, but how does black progress? Play went 53. Kd2 b4! [Or else, white goes Kc3xb3-b4, followed by b3 and king oscillation.] White found 54. a4! Bg2 [If 54. axb4 Kf7 black will come through b5-c4. But white’s a-pawn can only be stopped by the Bishop coming to f1-a6 and that helps white force a draw.] 55. Ke2! Bf3+ 56. Ke3 Bg2 57. Kf2 Be4 58. Ke3 (½-½)
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player