MOSCOW: Newly-crowned World champion Viswanathan Anand has been the face of Indian chess for more than two decades and the five-time title holder said he was proud to be a part of India's rediscovery of chess.
The 42-year-old Indian clinched his fifth title on Wednesday after beating Israeli challenger Boris Gelfand 2.5-1.5 in a tense tie-breaker at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow after being tied 6-6 in the 12 classical games.
Asked about his role in giving a fillip to Indian chess, Anand said: "When I grew up there was not much chess scene in India but I was lucky that whatever chess scene was there, the centre was in Chennai. We benefited from the fact that the Soviet cultural centre was in Chennai.
"We had a bunch of enthusiasts who would come on Sunday and play blitz the whole day. They were also very committed, they would organise weekend tournaments and I used to play and with constant practice I started to become better.
"I am very proud that India rediscovered chess then. I am proud to have played a big role in that discovery. I could feel it because when I became world junior champion and then the Grand master, we could see that chess was certainly becoming popular in India.
"So, I am very happy that India was taking to chess again in a big way. Right now, we have a lot of depth both in men and women's game, a lot of people are taking part," he added.
Asked about his contribution to India's growth which coincided with his rising career, Anand said: "As for tying myself with India's growth that I am a little reluctant. You never know who is inspiring whom. But lets say, at least it happened almost at the same time.
"India had this big moment in 1991 after which economy started expanding vigorously, well lets just say that it all happened almost at the same time," he said.