Harikrishna calls for an Indian chess league
Archiman Bhaduri, TNN | Mar 27, 2014, 05.29 AM IST
KOLKATA: India’s second-highest Elo-rated player Pentala Harikrishna has advocated an Indian Chess League for the development of the game in the country.
“We have a lot of players in the 2500-2600 Elo bracket, but few are making it beyond that,” he reasoned.
The Grandmaster from Andhra Pradesh has been playing in European chess leagues for the last couple of years and has found the concept quite appealing.
“All the major European countries have their own leagues among club teams from where the top clubs qualify for the European Club Cup. It’s like the Champions League in football,” Hari said.
The 27-year-old will be representing Czech club Novybor in this year’s European Cup, scheduled to be held in Bilbao, Spain, in September. “There are many divisions and it’s only in the top division that clubs can have foreign players as special invitees,” said Hari, who has taken part in the German, Italian and Greek leagues before.
Hari’s new team will also have strong players like David Navara of Czech Republic, Russia’s Alexei Shirov and Nikita Vitiugov, and Viswanathan Anand’s seconds during last world championship match – India’s Krishnan Sasikiran and Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland. “Such leagues give local players a chance to play against higher-ranked players,” Hari said.
China, too, have their own chess league where Hari played some years back. “The Chinese league started in 2006. In the Chinese league, no foreign invited player is allowed to play another invited player, but has to play a Chinese player. Hence it’s the Chinese players who are getting an opportunity to play against higher-rated and better players and grow fast,” Hari pointed out.
The former world junior champion felt there’s no point in staging big events like the World Championship, which was held in Chennai last year, if it does not bring extra benefits for Indian players. “We need a system in place which will churn out youngsters. We don’t get to play many tournaments in the country since we will only stand to lose our ratings in such low-rated meets,” Hari stated, giving the example of Parimarjan Negi who dropped about 40 points after losing matches in the National Premier meet.
Hari, who is aiming for the World Grand Prix later this year, is working with a team which has his close friend GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly. “I have played enough team events for the country. Now I have to increase my ratings since I plan to play the Grand Prix and Candidates meet in the near future,” the 2726 Elo-rated player signed off.
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