The chess game is believed to have originated in India and played ever since the 6th Century A.D. India witnessed its first chess Grandmaster, Viswanathan Anand, in 1988, followed by many other Indian chess players who made India proud.
According to FIDE, the International Chess Federation, the various Indian chess players include 68 Grandmasters, 124 International Masters, 42 Woman International Masters, 20 Woman Grandmasters, and about 33,028 rated players, as of January 2021. Take a look at the top 10 Indian Chess Players, out of which many have been conferred the highest civilian and sports honor in India and been awarded the Arjuna Award and Padma Awards.
Top Indian Chess Players List
1. Viswanathan Anand
Most of us have heard of Viswanathan Anand as the best Indian chess player. Also called Vishy Anand and Tiger of Madras, Vishwanathan Anand undoubtedly tops the list. He has achieved every chess player’s desire.
He is the World Rapid Chess Champion and the only Indian player to have crossed the 2800 marks on the FIDE rating list on the fourth rank. Vishy has won the FIDE world championship five times in 200, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012. He was the first person to be awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1991-92 and the first sportsperson to receive India’s second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan.
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2. Pentala Harikrishna
Pentala Harikrishna hails from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, and became the youngest Grandmaster from Indian in 2001 after winning the Commonwealth Championship. He boasts several other chess victories, such as the World Junior Championship in 2004and the Asian Individual Championship in 2011. Harikrishna has also represented Indian seven times between 2000 and 2012 at the Chess Olympiads.
In 2016, Harikrishna reached a rating of 2763.3 on the live Elo rating scale, overtaking Vishwanathan Anand and being the first Indian player to surpass Anand in three decades. With a FIDE rating of 276, he made it to the world’s top ten players in 2016. Pentala Harikrishna’s current world ranking is 2719.
3. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi
Born in Nashik, Maharashtra, Vidit Gujrathi was the first Indian to have won the U-14 World Youth Chess Championship in 2008, gaining the title of an International Master. In 2009, Vidit secured a victory at the World Youth Chess Championship. He won his first G.M. norm in the U-20 category in 2011 at the World Youth Chess Championship.
In January 2013, Gujrathi became the young 18-year-old Grandmaster. He won a bronze medal at the U-20 World Junior Chess Championship in Turkey. He is the fourth Indian chess player with a current world ranking of 2726 at the FIDE.
4. Bhaskaran Adhiban
Born in Tamil Nadu, Bhaskaran Adhiban gained the limelight in 2007 when he won the U-16 Asian Championship, Tashkent. In 2008, he won the U-16 World Youth Championship and the 47th Premier National Chess Championship in 2009.
He represented India in 2010 at the Asian Games and bagged a bronze for the country. In 2016, he also won the Tata Steel Challenges tournament three times a tie. Adhiban won the 33rd Reykjavik Open tournament at Iceland in 2018 and became the second Indian to secure the title. His current world rating at FIDE is 2671.
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5. Krishnan Sasikiran
Another chess player who hails from Tamil Nadu, Krishnan Sasikiran, learned to play chess from his father at 9. He has won the Indian Chess Championship four times in 1999, 2002, 2003, and 2013. He also won the 1999 Asian Junior Chess Championship in Vietnam.
Sasikiran bagged his Grandmaster title in 2000 at the Commonwealth Championship in Sangli. He also went on to win the Hastings International Chess tournament. Further, he won gold in the 2006 Asian Games team event and helped the Indian team win bronze in the 2014 Chess Olympiad. His current world rating at FIDE is 2647.
6. S. P. Sethuraman
Born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, SP Sethuraman won the Asian U-12 Chess Championship in 2004. He also represented India in 2009 at the World U-16 Championship in Antalya. In 2015, Sethuraman represented India in the Chess World Cup and won the Indian National Premier Championship. The Grandmaster also won the Asian Chess Championship held at Tashkent. Sethuraman currently has a FIDE ranking of 2644.
7. Chithambaram Aravindh
The youngest Indian Chess Grandmaster, Chithambaram Aravindh, hails from Tamil Nadu and is the youngest Indian Chess Grandmaster. He bagged the second position in the World U-14 Chess Championship in 2012 and registered a victory at the age of 12 in the U-19 National Championship. In 2013, he secured his first GM norm, winning the first major tournament at Chennai Grandmaster International Open. In 2014, he secured the International Master title and the Grandmaster title in 2015. Aravindh currently holds a FIDE rating of 2641.
8. Parimarjan Negi
The Indian Chess Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi achieved his grandmaster norm at the age of 13 making him the sixth youngest grandmaster in history. He is an Indian and Asian champion, who broke Pentala Harikrishna’s record and also became the second-youngest grandmaster in India. In 2010, Negi received the Arjuna Award. He won the 11th Asian Chess Championship at Ho Chi Minh City in 2012. Negi currently holds a FIDE ranking of 2639.
9. Surya Shekhar Ganguly
Surya Shekhar Ganguly secured his InternationalMaster at the age of 16 and the Grandmaster norm at the age of 19. In 2009, he registered his victory in the Asian Chess Championship and became the Indian Champion six times consecutively.
His mind-blowing achievements have bagged him 40 individual gold medals, 21 individual silver medals, and 6 individual bronze medals in National and International chess tournaments. Also, in team competitions, he won 12 gold, 4 silver, and 3 bronze medals. His recent achievements include individual gold in the 2019 Hunan International Open, individual gold in the 2019 World team Championship in Kazakhstan, gold in the 2019 National Team championship in Kolkata, bronze in the 2019 Binhai International Open held in China, and bronze in the 2018 Asian Team Championship in Classical and Rapid in Iran. Currently, Ganguly holds a FIDE rating of 2625.
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10. Nihal Sarin
Born in Kerala, Nihal Sarin is a chess prodigy as he achieved his Grandmaster title at the age of 14. He is the fourth-youngest player in chess history to cross the Elo rating of 2600 at the age of 14. In 2019, at the age of 15, Nihal was the youngest Indian to play at the World Cup where he successfully reached the second round.
Recently, Nihal won gold as part of the Indian team in the 2020 FIDE Chess Olympiad that was held online. He also secured the U-18 World Youth Championship held online in 2020 in the rapid format. Nihal’s current FIDE rating is 2620.