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The 64 grandmasters of Indian chess

by Sagar Shah - 19/07/2019

On 18th of July Indian chess got its 64th GM. A very symbolic day as the chess board is made up of 64 squares. In 1980s, a genius named Vishy Anand arrived on the chess scene and changed the landscape of Indian chess forever. Anand became a GM in 1987 and 32 years later Prithu Gupta from Delhi became the 64th GM on 18th of July 2019. Who are these grandmasters of Indian chess? In this article we acquaint you with all the GMs of Indian chess along with their photographs and the year in which they became GMs. Also we have collected some important statistics related to the grandmasters in Indian chess, which show us what needs to be done to make Indian chess even better.

Indian chess now has 64 GMs!

The Indian chess board with a GM on each square! From Vishy Anand on a1 to Prithu Gupta on h8! | Artwork created by Sagar Shah| ChessBase India

Chess in India is booming thanks to many factors. The main one being the presence of Vishy Anand, who is still actively playing chess and has motivated the entire nation by becoming the World Champion for a record five times. At the same time we have a strong national federation, work that is being done at the grassroot level and the chess in schools program that is slowly picking up pace. All of these factors have led to Indian chess going from one GM in 1987 (Vishy Anand) to 64 GMs as on 18th of July 2019. As a chess board has 64 squares, we thought it would be a good time to have a look at all the GMs of Indian chess and the year in which they became grandmasters. But before that, let's have a look at some of the statistics.:

This graph shows us that although India has 29 states and 7 union territories, we have GMs only from 13 states. Tamil Nadu has contributed 23 of the 64 GMs which comes to a whopping 36%. The other states which have a good number of GMs are West Bengal (8), Maharashtra (7) and Delhi (6).

The state wise distribution shows how southern India has contributed heavily to the total number of grandmasters in Indian chess. 

States like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and others which are some of the biggest states in our country are finding it hard to get their first GMs. What might be the reason for that? The main reason is surely the lack of chess culture in these places. Very few tournaments are held and players don't get enough exposure to play and improve. The other reason could also be because of the language. Hindi is the main spoken language in these states and most of the chess literature exists in English. With ChessBase India Hindi we have tried in our own way to bridge this gap, but of course, this issue needs to be tackled in a more intensive manner.

The age wise distribution shows that we have nine GMs in the age of 10-19, 27 GMs in the age of 20-29 and 22 GMs in the age of 30 to 39.

All the nine GMs who are in between the age of 10-19 became grandmasters after 2017. This means that chess in the country is getting younger. In the last couple of years we have had only three players above the age of 30 who became GMs. While, chess is becoming younger by the day, the achievement of Anand to remain in top 10 in the world even at the age of 49 is simply mind boggling.

This graph tells us the number of GMs that were created in Indian chess from 1987 onwards

It is this graph that lets us believe that Indian chess is truly on the right track. Vishy Anand became a GM in 1987. It took four more years for Barua to become one in 1991. In 1997, Pravin Thipsay became India's third GM. India had created three GMs in ten years! From 2000 onwards, chess in India was growing steadily and we have one or two GMs every year except for 2005 when we had none. But that was compensated by India getting four GMs in the next year in 2006. The year 2014 was also very special because it was for the first time that India got six new GMs in a calendar year. However, you could see that this was not a sustainable growth as in the year 2015, the number went down to just one GM. In 2017 India once again got six new GMs, but this was followed not by a slump, but by a rise. In 2018 we had eight GMs and it has only been seven months in 2019 and we already have six GMs. We can say for sure that Indian chess is on the right track and creating six to ten GMs a year has become something that is sustainable. ChessBase India began in January 2016 and since then India has been able to create 23 new GMs. We are glad to be right in the center of this chess revolution.

Meet the 64 G(e)Ms of Indian chess!

1st GM of India - Vishy Anand, 1988

2nd GM of India - Dibyendu Barua, 1991

3rd GM of India - Pravin Thipsay, 1997

4th GM of India - Abhijit Kunte, 2000

5th GM of India - Sasikiran Krishnan, 2000

6th GM of India - P. Harikrishna, 2001

7th GM of India - Koneru Humpy, 2002

8th GM of India - Surya Sekhar Ganguly, 2003

9th GM of India - Sandipan Chanda, 2003

10th GM of India - R.B. Ramesh, 2004

11th GM of India - Tejas Bakre, 2004

12th GM of India - Magesh Chandran, 2006

13th GM of India - Deepan Chakkravarthy, 2006

14th GM of India - Neelotpal Das, 2006

15th GM of India - Parimarjan Negi, 2006 | Photo: Anastasiya Balakhontseva

16th GM of India - GN Gopal, 2007

17th GM of India - Abhijeet Gupta, 2008

18th GM of India - Arun Prasad, 2008

19th GM of India - Sundararajan Kidambi, 2009

20th GM of India - R.R. Laxman, 2009

21st GM of India - Sriram Jha, 2010

22nd GM of India - Deep Sengupta, 2010

23rd GM of India - B. Adhiban, 2010

24th GM of India - S.P. Sethuraman, 2011

25th GM of India - D. Harika, 2011

26th GM of India - Lalith Babu, 2012

27th GM of India - Vaibhav Suri, 2012

28th GM of India - M.R. Venkatesh, 2012

29th GM of India - Sahaj Grover, 2012 | Photo: Tata Steel Chess

30th GM of India - Vidit Gujrathi, 2013

31st GM of India - Shyam Sundar, 2013

32nd GM of India - Akshayraj Kore, 2013

33rd GM of India - Vishnu Prasanna, 2013

34th GM of India - Debashis Das, 2013

35th GM of India - Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury, 2013

36th GM of India - Ankit Rajpara, 2014

37th GM of India - Aravindh Chithambaram, 2015

38th GM of India, Karthikeyan Murali, 2015

39th GM of India, Ashwin Jayaram, 2015

40th GM of India - Swapnil Dhopade, 2015

41st GM of India - S.L. Narayanan, 2015

42nd GM of India - Shardul Gagare, 2016

43rd GM of India - Diptayan Ghosh, 2016

44th GM of India - K. Priyadharshan, 2016

45th GM of India - Aryan Chopra, 2017

46th GM of India - Srinath Narayanan, 2017

47th GM of India - Himanshu Sharma, 2017

48th GM of India - Anurag Mhamal, 2017

49th GM of India - Abhimanyu Puranik, 2017

50th GM of India - M.S. Thejkumar, 2017

51st GM of India - Saptarshi Roy, 2018 | Photo: Lennart Ootes

52nd GM of India - R. Praggnanandhaa, 2018

53rd GM of India - Nihal Sarin, 2018

54th GM of India - Arjun Erigaisi, 2018

55th GM of India - Karthik Venkatraman, 2018

56th GM of India - Harsha Bharathakoti, 2018

57th GM of India - P. Karthikeyan, 2018

58th GM of India - Stany GA, 2018

59th GM of India - Visakh NR, 2019

60th GM of India - D.Gukesh, 2019

61st GM of India - P. Iniyan, 2019

62nd GM of India - Swayams Mishra, 2019

63rd GM of India - Girish Koushik, 2019

64th GM of India - Prithu Gupta, 2019 | Photo: Reykjavik Open

Except for seven photos, all other photos have been taken by Amruta Mokal. Amruta's work in the field of photography has surely given Indian chess a big boost.

The future?

Who are the next players of Indian chess who are close to the GM title?

17-year-old Arjun Kalyan has three GM norms and a rating of 2482. He will definitely achieve his GM title in the next few days. 

Raunak Sadhwani is now close to 2500 and already has two GM norms under his belt. We can expect him to move closer to his GM title in the days to come. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Shyam Nikhil has already crossed 2500 on the Elo scale and only has to get one GM norm to become a grandmaster. He has been waiting for his final norm for quite some time now. But one tournament is all that it will take for this Tamil Nadu lad to become India's next GM.

After his brother Visakh NR achieved his GM title in January 2019, it is now time for Vignesh to make it a double for the family in 2019. He already has three GM norms and a rating of 2466.

CRG Krishna is also close to achieving his GM title

It is quite possible that all five of these players would achieve their GM titles before 2019 comes to an end and we would have eleven players becoming grandmasters in a calendar year. Now that would really be special!

All Indian GMs with their names, state, age and year of becoming a GM

Name State Age Year of becoming GM
1. Vishy Anand Tamil Nadu 49 1987
2. Dibyendu Barua West Bengal 53 1991
3. Pravin Thipsay Maharashtra 60 1997
4. Abhijit Kunte Maharashtra 42 2000
5. K Sasikiran Tamil Nadu 38 2000
6. P Harikrishna Andhra Pradesh 33 2001
7. K Humpy Andhra Pradesh 32 2002
8. Surya Sekhar Ganguly West Bengal 36 2003
9. Sandipan Chanda West Bengal 36 2003
10. R B Ramesh Tamil Nadu 43 2004
11. Tejas Bakre Gujarat 38 2004
12. P Magesh Chandran Tamil Nadu 36 2006
13. Deepan Chakravarthy Tamil Nadu 32 2006
14. Neelotpal Das West Bengal 37 2006
15. Parimarjan Negi Delhi 26 2006
16. G N Gopal Kerala 30 2007
17. Abhijeet Gupta Rajasthan 30 2008
18. S Arun Prasad Tamil Nadu 31 2008
19. S Kidambi Tamil Nadu 37 2009
20. R R Laxman Tamil Nadu 36 2009
21. Sriram Jha Delhi 43 2010
22. Deep Sengupta West Bengal 31 2010
23. B Adhiban Tamil Nadu 27 2010
24. S P Sethuraman Tamil Nadu 26 2011
25. Harika D Andhra Pradesh 28 2011
26. Lalith Babu M R Andhra Pradesh 26 2012
27. Vaibhav Suri Delhi 22 2012
28. M R Venkatesh Tamil Nadu 34 2012
29. Sahaj Grover Delhi 24 2012
30. Vidit Gujrathi Maharashtra 25 2013
31. Shyam Sundar M Tamil Nadu 27 2013
32. Akhshayraj Kore Maharashtra 31 2013
33. Vishnu Prasanna Tamil Nadu 30 2013
34. Debashis Das Odisha 26 2013
35. Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury
West Bengal 37 2013
36. Ankit Rajpara Gujarat 25 2014
37. Aravindh Chithambaram Tamil Nadu 20 2015
38. Karthikeyan Murali Tamil Nadu 20 2015
39. Ashwin Jayaram Tamil Nadu 29 2015
40. Swapnil S Dhopade Maharashtra 29 2015
41. S L Narayanan Kerala 21 2015
42. Shardul Gagare Maharashtra 22 2016
43. Diptayan Ghosh West Bengal 21 2016
44. Priyadharshan K Tamil Nadu 26 2016
45. Aryan Chopra Delhi 18 2017
46. Srinath Narayanan Tamil Nadu 25 2017
47. Himanshu Sharma Haryana 36 2017
48. Anurag Mhamal Goa 24 2017
49. Abhimanyu Puranik Maharashtra 19 2017
50. Thejkumar M S Karnataka 38 2017
51. Saptarshi Roy West Bengal 33 2018
52. R Praggnanandhaa Tamil Nadu 14 2018
53. Nihal Sarin Kerala 15 2018
54. Erigaisi Arjun Telangana 16 2018
55. Karthik Venkataraman Telangana 20 2018
56. Harsha Bharathakoti Telangana 19 2018
57. P Karthikeyan Tamil Nadu 29 2018
58. Stany G A Karnataka 26 2018
59. Visakh N R Tamil Nadu 20 2019
60. Gukesh D Tamil Nadu 13 2019
61. P Iniyan Tamil Nadu 17 2019
62. Swayams Mishra Odisha 27 2019
63. Girish Koushik Karnataka 22 2019
64. Prithu Gupta Delhi 15 2019

State-wise distribution of GMs

Name of State No.of GMs
Tamil Nadu 23
West Bengal 8
Maharashtra 7
Delhi 6
Andhra Pradesh 4
Kerala 3
Telangana 3
Karnataka 3
Odisha 2
Gujarat  2
Rajasthan 1
Haryana 1
Goa 1
Total 64

Age and total no. GMs

Age No. of GMs
0-9 0
10 to 19 9
20 to 29 27
30 to 39 22
40 to 49 4
50 to 59 1
60 to 69 1
Total 64

Year and No. of GMs

Year No. of GMs
1987 1
1991 1
1997 1
2000 2
2001 1
2002 1
2003 2
2004 2
2005 0
2006 4
2007 1
2008 2
2009 2
2010 3
2011 2
2012 4
2013 6
2014 1
2015 5
2016 3
2017 6
2018 8
2019 6
Total 64

We hope that you enjoyed this compilation related to grandmasters of Indian chess. If you have any feedback, let us know in the comments section below.