Indians at World Open!

The Indian contigent is making a strong showing at the World Open and have made an impact for the last few years. There are about 14-15 players in the delegation and they will travel to Canada to play in the Canadian Open after the World Open ends. The delegation includes:

GM Surya Shekar Ganguly. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

GM Surya Shekar Ganguly (pictured right), GM Parimarjan Negi, GM Abhijit Kunte, GM Geetha Gopal, GM-elect Arun Prasad, IM Rajaram Laxman, IM K Rathnakaran, IM Marani Venkatesh, WGM Arthie Ramaswamy, WGM Swati Ghate, WGM Nisha Mohota, WGM Kiran Manisha Mohanty, WGM Eesha Karavade, WIM Sai Meera, Adarsh Jayakumar. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

I had a very nice conversation with Vijay Kumar, the famous videojournalist who follows Viswanathan Anand around the world covering his events. I had been an admirer of his work on ChessBase and had seen many of his interviews of the World Champion. Vijay is producer of four chess television shows in India and was formerly in the Sports Ministry of India. He had just finished a brief interview with Parimarjan Negi when I walked up and introduced myself. Vijay is a very affable person and talked passionately about his travels with Mr. Viswanathan to Mexico, Argentina, Dubai, Tripoli, Turin, and Calvia.

What brought him to Philly? Was he covering the Indian contingent? He was covering the contingent, but his focus was Negi. He said that after Viswanathan’s career starts to tail off, he needs another figure and he believes that Negi will go far. Negi won the Philadelphia International and is doing well in the World Open with two rounds remaining.

I chatted with Negi who was very polite and well-mannered. He was professionally-dressed with his Tata Corporation jacket on. Many of the Indian players were wearing the logos of their sponsors. Ganguly and Kunte were wearing “Indian Oil” and G.N. Gopal was also sporting a logo. I introduced myself to Negi and told him I had interviewed many Indian players and he told me he had visited the site. It was his first time to the U.S., but told me that he did not travel with the rest of the Indian delegation. He apparently is traveling on his own schedule.

GM Parimarjan Negi vs. GM Alexander Ivanov

GM Parimarjan Negi vs. GM Alexander Ivanov
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

I told both Negi and Vijay that it was an honor to have the Indian delegation here because it adds to the quality of play and there is more fighting chess. In the U.S. the same players are fighting in every tournament and it becomes a routine. I remember when China came to the National Open in 2001. It was instructive to see the camaraderie and the discipline of the Chinese players.

WGMs Swati Ghate and Nisha Mohota

WGMs Swati Ghate and Nisha Mohota
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

With the Indians, I notice the same camaraderie/discipline and also an impact they have on the Indian players residing in the U.S. The men are neatly-dressed and the woman are looking regal in their saris! Let us hope that Indian brings a team for years to come!


  1. I conducted interviews with both Parimarjan Negi (shared joint 1st) and Vijay Kumar and will post these as soon as I return home. Negi is a very humble person of 15 years. After tying for joint 1st on 7-2, he lost the tiebreak to Evgeny Najer after succumbing to immense pressure. Lubomir Ftacnik and Alexander Moissenko were the other winners. Negi seemed slightly embarrassed and said he played badly. It appears it was a combination of fatigue and nerves.

  2. Daaim –

    The approach of a group trip is interesting. I am only aware of US youth participating en masse in international tournaments, as part of official USCF contingents at various youth championships. The Indians brought not only the youngsters, but also the “older” players .. older being a relative term. Of course I gather that all of them are full time chessplayers.

    Do you think that such an approach would work for members of the diaspora?

  3. Not sure. There is one component that chess organizations cannot get around… funding. Unless you have a consistent source of funding, efforts for chess development are severely stunted. India draws from heavy corporate support and that is not the case in much of the Diaspora.

  4. Thanks for the correction. Yep… I’m familiar with the sari, but you’re right. Interesting the name “salvar karmiz.” It is the same name for male garments Pakistan… salwar kameez. I got a couple made while in Bahrain. 🙂 FM Kazim Gulamali’s Dad also brought me one from Pakistan… typical Indo-Pakistani dress. Those are beautiful pictures… I like the femininity of Indian women and those of Africa and Asia. In America, feminine styles of dress have virtually disappeared. It is refreshing to see the Indian women wearing those garments at the tournaments.

  5. Here is the interview I did with Vijay Kumar. He is the person that follows Viswanathan Anand around the world. He told me that he was making way for a new star and as Anand’s career winds down, he has another person to cover… Parimarjan Negi!

    Listen to Interview!

  6. Following is a video clip by Vijay Kumar. It’s ironic that I pulled it from ChessVibes. Vijay gave me his card and told me about his site, but I have neglected to check it out. Here’s the clip.

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