Top Indian Chess Masters: Who’s the Best Player Now?

India’s chess landscape is a testament to the skill and strategic prowess that has emerged from its rich cultural tapestry. As you explore the chess scene, you’re bound to be impressed by the range of talent, from prodigies making international headlines to grandmasters whose names are etched in chess history.

Among these luminaries, players like Parimarjan Negi and the young sensation D. Gukesh have carved their niches. Negi, with a Grandmaster title clinched at just 13, and Gukesh, recently surpassing the legendary Viswanathan Anand in live world rankings, exemplify the dynamism and brilliance of Indian chess.

Vishwanathan Anand

Vishwanathan Anand

Early Life and Career

Explored by many as the grand patriarch of Indian chess, Vishwanathan Anand’s journey began in Chennai, India, on December 11, 1969. Your understanding of chess geniuses must surely include Anand, as he shattered ceilings and set benchmarks, becoming India’s first Grandmaster. His linguistic dexterity extends beyond the chessboard, fluent in Tamil, English, French, German, and Spanish, a testament to his rounded intellect. On this celestial journey, a minor planet discovered in 1988 was named 4538 Vishyanand in his honour, marking his stellar impact on the cosmos of chess.

World Chess Championship Titles

Anand’s mastery over the chessboard is unparalleled, especially when considering his unique achievement. He’s the only player to have won the world chess championship across all formats: tournament, match, and knockout, including rapid time controls—an ingenious testament to his versatile and dynamic playing style. With a peak FIDE rating of 2754, Anand dominated the global arena, clinching the FIDE World Chess Championship title from 2000 to 2002, illuminating the chessboard with his strategic prowess and quicksilver adaptations.

Contributions to Indian Chess

Yours is a world enriched by pioneers, and in the Indian chess landscape, Anand’s legacy endures. A mere name doesn’t encapsulate his influence; he’s a living institution shaping India’s chess future. The nation witnessed a surge in chess enthusiasm and international accolades, owed in no small part to the “Tiger of Madras.” His games, replete with nimble tactics and deep strategic insights, serve as educational gold for upcoming prodigies, forever altering the calibre of play and competitive spirit among India’s chess talent.

Koneru HumpyKoneru Humpy

Rise to Fame

Koneru Humpy’s ascent in the realm of chess was meteoric and underscored by her historic feat of becoming the youngest woman ever to achieve the title of grandmaster at the time—a record that stood until 2008. Humpy’s journey to the apex of chess excellence began in her early years as she honed her skills and swiftly climbed the ranks. She burst onto the global stage with a succession of tournament victories that significantly bolstered her international standing and made her a household name in Indian chess circles.

Leveraging strategic prowess and innovative gameplay, Humpy’s rise wasn’t just a series of wins; it was a statement that India was fast becoming a formidable force in women’s chess. Her rise to fame mirrored the growing sentiment that Indian chess players were ready to challenge the long-established hierarchies in the world of chess, much to the anticipation of chess enthusiasts worldwide.

Achievements and Titles

Koneru Humpy’s achievements are a testament to her enduring presence in the competitive chess landscape. With a history-making championship title at the Women’s World Rapid Chess Championship in 2019, she made an indelible mark on the sport. Additionally, her peak rating of 2735 saw her soar to the ranks of the top-rated women players globally. These are but a few landmarks in a career laden with noteworthy accomplishments.

Let’s break down some of her most prominent titles:

  • World Junior Girls’ Chess Championship in 2001
  • Asian Women’s Chess Championship on more than one occasion
  • British Women’s Chess Championship in 2000 and 2002

Her prolific career boasts participation and success at multiple Chess Olympiads, where she contributed to India’s standings with exceptional performances. Humpy’s accolades have paved the way for other aspiring women chess champions in India, showcasing the potential for excellence and inspiring a generation of young players. Not only has she claimed numerous victories and titles, but she’s also consistently remained a formidable opponent in international competitions, maintaining her elite status among global chess champions.

The trajectory of Humpy’s career also reflects a broader phenomenon in Indian chess, marked by the emergence of new talent and the ability to lock horns with the world’s chess elite confidently. From her early milestones to her current role in shaping India’s chess domain, Humpy’s journey continues to be one of passion, dedication, and an unfaltering pursuit of mastery on the 64 squares.

08. Narayanan. S.L.Untitled-design-2023-08-22T153845.835


Imagine joining an elite group of players by clinching titles that are the envy of the chess community. Narayanan S.L. has done just that, with a résumé that marks him out as a standout Indian chess Grandmaster. Celebrate his milestones, from bagging the Asian U16 title to a gold medal in the Asian Junior Blitz Chess Championship. With a FIDE rating that’s consistently risen, his highest reaching 2656, Narayanan’s skills and strategic brilliance have not only earned him medals but also respect.

Championship Category Achievement
Asian U16 Standard Title Winner
Asian Junior Blitz Blitz Gold Medallist
Commonwealth U10 Rapid Champion
World Junior Rapid Chess Rapid Champion

His participation in international tournaments resulted in commendable placements, solidifying Narayanan’s reputation as a fierce competitor. Important to your understanding is his role in India’s win at the Chess Olympiad, a testament to his strength as a team player.

His track record in Rapid chess is especially noteworthy, where he dominated fields with the utmost precision. In the world of lightning-fast moves and split-second decisions, Narayanan’s blitz rating shines at 2668, indicative of his exceptional talent in the format.


Born on October 14, 1998, Narayanan SL’s ascent into the upper echelons of chess has been marked by perseverance and raw skill. At a young age, his prowess on the chessboard became evident as he steered his way to victory, capturing the highly contested Commonwealth U10 title and later, scaling heights with the World Junior Rapid Chess Champion title.

There’s an inspirational undertone to Narayanan’s journey that resonates with many. Your aspirations can draw parallels from his trajectory; a clear message that with dedication, you can burst onto the global stage and leave an indelible mark. Grandmaster Narayanan SL epitomizes such a journey, transitioning from a child prodigy to a respected master of the game.

As you reflect on Narayanan’s journey, note his consistent displays of skill, which culminated in the attainment of his Grandmaster status. His balanced playing style, complemented by a keen eye for tactical opportunities, continues to make him a formidable opponent and a respected name in Indian chess circles.

Pentala HarikrishnaPentala Harikrishna

Career Highlights

As you explore the world of Indian chess, Pentala Harikrishna’s name stands out as a beacon of success and consistency. Born in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, Harikrishna emerged as a grandmaster in 2001, and it wasn’t long before he carved out a name for himself on the international chess scene. Here’s a glimpse at his notable achievements over the years:

  • Commonwealth Champion: The year 2001 was pivotal for Harikrishna as he clinched the Commonwealth Chess Championship, announcing his arrival in the global arena.
  • World Junior Champion: 2004 saw Harikrishna capture the prestigious World Junior Chess title, an honour that marked his ascent into the upper echelons of the chess world.
  • Asian Individual Champion: 2011 added another feather to his cap as he emerged victorious in the Asian Individual Chess Championship.
  • Tata Steel Group B Winner: His 2012 victory in the Tata Steel Group B tournament stood as testament to his skill and resolve against highly competitive fields.
  • Biel MTO Masters Victory: 2013 brought further glory as Harikrishna topped the standings at the Biel MTO Masters Tournament Open event.

Harikrishna’s contribution to the national team is equally commendable, having represented India in various Chess Olympiads and securing a team Bronze. It’s clear that over the years, Harikrishna has not only honed his game but has also inspired a generation with his strategic depth and endgame mastery.

Current Status

As of now, Pentala Harikrishna holds a FIDE rating of 2708 and is quick to remind chess fans of his staying power in the game. Having been a second to some of the world’s top players, Harikrishna’s prowess extends to sharing insights that improve the play of other chess elites.

Despite the passage of time and the emergence of younger talents, Harikrishna remains a significant force in Indian chess. His persistence in elite tournaments and his ability to outmaneuver younger opponents reflect not just his unparalleled experience but also his adaptability to the ever-evolving landscape of chess.

In the modern day, given the shifting dynamics and with the digital realm coming into play, Harikrishna has maintained his reputation and ranking, indicating his relentless pursuit of chess excellence. Whatever the platform or the competition, Harikrishna’s strategic brilliance and dedication continue to resonate within the chess community, ensuring that his legacy endures as a guiding light for prospective chess masters.

Tania SachdevTania Sachdev

Journey in Chess

In your quest to understand the crème de la crème of Indian chess, you’ll find Tania Sachdev’s journey quite remarkable. She’s not just a chess player; she’s a trailblazer who holds the esteemed FIDE titles of International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM). Starting from her childhood years, Tania has carved a niche in the male-dominated world of chess through sheer grit and determination. Born on 20 August 1986, her finesse on the 64 squares is the result of years of dedicated practice and competition. Her insights and analytical skills have also made her a respected chess presenter and commentator, a role in which she continues to promote the game passionately.

Notable Achievements

Tania Sachdev’s trophy cabinet is as impressive as her on-board strategies. Twice, she clinched the Indian Women’s Chess Championship, proving her dominion in 2006 and repeating the success in 2007. That same year, she expanded her horizons by conquering the Asian continent, becoming the Asian Women’s Chess Champion. It’s her triumphs in the Commonwealth Women’s Chess Championship, however, that truly speak volumes of her consistency and prowess, with titles secured in 2016, 2018, and again in 2019.

Title Year
Indian Women’s Chess Championship 2006, 2007
Asian Women’s Chess Championship 2007
Commonwealth Women’s Chess Championship 2016, 2018, 2019

In team competitions, her contributions are equally valuable. Alongside R Vaishali and others, Tania has helped hoist national pride on the international stage. Her individual bronze at the Olympiad, coupled with India’s maiden victory in the Gaprindashvili Cup, commemorates her as not just a champion but a bearer of India’s chess legacy. Her achievements are a testament to her skill, determination, and the bright future of Indian chess that players like her are helping to shape.

History of Chess in India

The game of chess is regarded to have its ancient roots in India, evolving from Chaturanga – a battle simulation game played on an 8×8 grid. As you delve into the history of Indian chess, you’ll discover its transformation from a strategic pastime of royalty to a competitive sport that has garnered international acclaim.

In the 70s and 80s, Indian chess was not as globally recognised as it is today. That changed when a young talent from Tamil Nadu, Viswanathan Anand, emerged on the scene. Often referred to as the ‘Lightning Kid’ for his swift plays, Anand has since become synonymous with chess in India. His legacy is not just a catalogue of titles but an inspirational journey that paved the way for future generations.

The new millennium witnessed a dramatic surge in Indian chess, thanks in part to Anand’s influence and the establishment of robust chess infrastructures. The country began producing grandmasters at an impressive pace, each with a unique story of grit and dedication. The chess landscape in India expanded, welcoming young prodigies who started etching their names in history books.

These prodigies, like Dommaraju Gukesh and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, represent a lineage of exceptional talent. Their achievements and FIDE ratings reflect not just personal excellence but also the high standards of Indian chess training. Gukesh’s accomplishment as one of the youngest Grandmasters globally and Praggnanandhaa’s meteoric rise in the international chess community signify India’s growing dominance.

Indian chess has come a long way, from its ancient origins to producing world-class grandmasters who compete at the highest level. The journey of chess in India is a testament to the country’s evolving prowess and the undying spirit of its players, continually shaping the narrative of the global chess order.

As your understanding of Indian chess history deepens, you can’t help but appreciate the remarkable transition from the ancient past to the dynamic present, where India now stands tall as a significant force in the international chess arena.


You’ve seen the remarkable journey of Indian chess, from its royal beginnings to the global stage. Trailblazers like Tania Sachdev have shattered stereotypes, while legends like Viswanathan Anand have become household names. The rise of young talents such as Dommaraju Gukesh and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu signals a bright future for Indian chess, showcasing the depth of talent in the country. With such a rich history and a promising new generation, it’s clear that India’s chess saga is far from over. Keep an eye on this space as Indian chess players continue to make their mark and inspire the next wave of grandmasters.

Related Articles

Back to top button