For anybody with even the faintest interest in chess, Frederic Friedel would not need any introduction. A veritable encyclopedia on the sport, he is also the founder of the chess software manufacturing company ChessBase. He is almost on kinship terms with the who's who of the chess world from Garry Kasparov to Vishwanathan Anand and others, who have used the software developed by him to sharpen their skills. Firstpost caught up with him during his recent visit to India, and in a candid interview, Friedel explained why he was extremely optimistic about the prospects of chess in India. Excerpts:
You are a chess expert extraordinaire and have been a pioneer in the development of chess software. What do you think lies ahead for chess in India?
India is the rising superpower of chess. Believe me, my prediction is that in five years, or at the very latest in 10 years, of the top players, 30-40 percent will be Indian and of the top 10, four will be Indian grand masters. The country should be thinking about chess for a few minutes everyday, everyone should and it can be done very easily.
Which is important because chess comes across initially as very overwhelming and difficult to handle, but your chess learning programme, Fritz and Chesster, has done a great job in simplifying it, so that kids can learn easily and grow an interest in the sport.
Yes, I have tried.
But we have not seen the emergence of a really big name in Indian chess after Anand...
But there are more grand masters now than ever before. At ChessBase India, everyday they introduce me to a child who is 9-, 10-, 11-years-old and after talking to them I predict they will be playing for the world championships someday. You have the greatest, very young talents in the world. It used to be in the Soviet Union. But now suddenly it is India and China, or more India than China, and I cannot believe what I have seen.
Do you feel there has to be a greater coverage of the game in India, certainly more than what it is being done at the moment?
Yes, and at the moment India is on the verge of becoming totally digitalised, having online access like no other country. Mr (Mukesh) Ambani has seen to it that India has the most powerful 4G connections. We have total coverage of all Indian chess. There is a team of journalists doing fantastic work, with analysis and explanation, but not many know it is there. Then when you tell them (about it), they never go away. But they have to know that it exists. The biggest market in chess comprises non-chess players and that's what needs to be tapped.
Click here for the detailed interview with Frederic Friedel.