The All-India Chess Federation (AICF) has announced a massive financial boost to Indian stars GM Vidit Gujrathi, GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, and IM Vaishali Rameshbabu as they prepare for the journey towards the World Championship title in April next year.
Out of the total amount which equals $240,000, around $36.000 will go to each player to cover expenses related to training and coaching. The rest of the money will be split between the three players and used to cover travel expenses up until the 2024 Candidates tournament that determines the challenger to reigning World Champion GM Ding Liren.
The financial support was announced at a press conference in Delhi attended by the players and AICF officials.
“We recognize the immense potential of Praggnanandhaa, Vidit, and Vaishali to make history in the world of chess. Our financial backing is a strategic move to empower these exceptional players and ensure they have the support they need to chase victory and etch their names in the annals of chess greatness.” AICF President Sanjay Kapoor said in a statement.
The AICF also announced that they will host five international grandmaster-level tournaments in the next two months, with the aim to provide opportunities for the next generation of players.
Bharat Chauhan, Chairman of the FIDE’s Advisory Board, said, “AICF’s commitment to supporting and nurturing chess talent is commendable. This bold initiative will undoubtedly contribute to the growth and development of Indian chess on the global stage. The reforms in the Indian chess landscape are not only evident in their over-the-board success but also in the effective organization of tournaments, putting India at the forefront of the international chess community.”
The Indian chess scene has experienced a remarkable surge in recent years with more than 80 grandmasters, five of them among the world’s top 30 players. Much of its success comes thanks to the legendary 5-time world champion GM Viswanathan Anand, who has inspired a new generation of talented teenagers and contributed significantly to India’s emergence as a chess powerhouse. His 37-year-reign was briefly overtaken by one of the teenagers, 17-year-old GM Gukesh Dommaraju who is considered a likely successor to the throne.
For the moment, it is another Indian prodigy who will get the first shot at qualifying for a World Championship match, namely Praggnanandhaa. The 18-year-old became the third-youngest candidate in the history of the game after GMs Magnus Carlsen and Bobby Fischer, thanks to a sensational performance in the FIDE World Cup.
As if that wasn’t enough, his sister Vaishali also made history by qualifying for the Women’s Candidates, just months after his brother did so, when she won the 2023 Women’s Grand Swiss with an 8.5/11 score. They are the first sister-brother combination to both reach a Candidates, let alone in the same year.
Expressing gratitude for the AICF’s support, the siblings shared with ChessBase India, “This helps for both of us to plan our training sessions. Grateful to AICF for their support.”
Vidit has been living in the shadows of his younger compatriots but finally got his breakthrough with a stunning FIDE Grand Swiss performance in Isle of Man. That qualified him to his first appearance in the Candidates tournament and propelled him into the top 15 players worldwide.
About the generous support by AICF, the 29-year-old told ChessBase India:
“I really appreciate this gesture. It shows that they are so keenly looking out for us. Now I can set the ball rolling and start building my team.”
India should now be even better equipped to retain the World Championship title that Carlsen took from Anand in a memorable match in Chennai in 2013.