Presently stuck in Bad Soden, a small German town, Viswanathan Anand chose to gainfully use the lockdown situation prevailing in most countries.

On Anand’s initiative, P. Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi, B. Adhiban, K. Humpy and D. Harika joined him to play simultaneous chess online, with over 100 players across the globe for more than five hours, on Saturday.

The event raised more than $6000 for the PM-CARES Fund.

Anand played 21 eligible players (having FIDE or chess.com Blitz rating of 2000 or lower).

These players donated $125 each to play Anand, who won 18 and drew three.

A ‘satisfied’ Anand reflected on what led to the event and life in Bad Soden.

What made you come up with this fund-raising initiative?

Well, these days, people are going to spend a lot of time online. And chess is going to be one of their favourite activities. So I thought if we get a chance for them (chess lovers) to engage with Grandmasters, it’ll be fun, a little bit special and raise some funds, as well.

Basically, I reached out to our team from Batumi (2018 Olympiad). For Humpy and Harika, I did not speak to them personally, I’m glad they came on board.

On your experience of playing online simultaneously with 21 players…

It was a bit disorienting at the beginning. I was trying to make moves, but it would always open the next board. I’m sure if I do it now, I’ll be okay, But that was a bit confusing. It was good fun and I thought the participants displayed a very good level. And generally, I was satisfied with my play, but in every game, there were some moments of very strange lapses of concentration. But I also got lucky in a couple of games, I must admit.

How do you look at the coming days?

Yes. I’m very much here. It doesn’t look like that the lockdown is going to be lifted anytime soon. I’m going to be in Germany till flights resume, flights that get me all the way home because I don’t want to be stranded somewhere else, even if it’s closer geographically. So the whole thing will have to open up. There were some possibilities, getting quite close, but because I wasn’t able to get to Chennai, I couldn’t take those things.

The other thing would depend on the quarantine situation, all that as well. So, for the foreseeable future, it looks like I’m stuck here.

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