Viswanathan Anand might soon be seen in a formal role with the world chess body, FIDE. On Friday at a press conference, FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich, who's running for a re-election in August, revealed that the five-time world champion will be a part of his future team.
Anand balks at an "administrator" tag for his prospective non-elected role. He points out while the exact specifics of his job description are still being worked out, it will be primarily that of an advisor.
"I really don't see myself as an administrator," he tells ESPN. "I'll basically be an advisor. The broad brief is that I'll work towards promoting chess, and offer feedback and suggestions on areas for improvement. I've been an advisor for FIDE in the past too, but this of course will be a formal role with greater responsibilities.
"The way I look at it, it's going to be very close to what I'm doing at the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ). Perhaps a bit more apt because this is my area of expertise. Just like in OGQ, I'll probably be a board member, maybe a more public-facing one."
Chennai will, in addition to the Chess Olympiad, also host the FIDE Congress this year. The election of office-bearers to the world chess governing body will take place on August 7 on the sidelines of the Olympiad.
Throughout his career, Anand has kept an arm's length distance from chess politics. Joining Russian Dvorkovich's team appears more significant than it perhaps is, because of the timing - pre-FIDE election and post-Ukraine invasion by Russia. A former Russian deputy prime minister, Dvorkovich has been caught in a precarious position since the invasion, with calls for rebalancing power within FIDE growing. In an interview with Mother Jones, however, the FIDE president voiced his opposition towards the war, one of the few former Kremlin officials to do so. He was quoted to have said "My thoughts are with Ukranian civilians".
Anand and Dvorkovich are understood to share a fairly good rapport which may have led to the latest turn of events at a time when the former world champion is slowly transitioning from strictly being a player to dabbling in a wider variety of roles.
Anand has a fairly packed run of months ahead in tournaments - Grand Chess Tour, Norway Classic, Leon Masters and No-Castling event in Dortmund, and he's trying to keep up with training in what's been a start-stop affair with tournaments for him. The last over the board tournament for him was the Gashimov Memorial in December.
"I'm doing a fair amount of training. I can feel the strain and it's hard to get used to. I'm playing less and less now. I've been skipping all major official competitions and World Championship cycle events. These sort of roles, like the one possibly in FIDE, seem to fill in that space. So it's not really a conscious decision or a part of a checklist. My outlook to this role is that it's an opportunity to watch the world of chess closely. It might be helpful especially since I'm mentoring the next bunch of Indian players," he says.