7 Greatest Indian Chess Grandmasters of all time

Chess is one of the world’s most famous games. A million people over the world play it. Therefore, the craze for Chess is comparable to any other popular sporting event. However, while people know about a few choice names when it comes to Chess grandmasters, they stumble in going any farther than Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand, and Vladimir Kramnik. When it comes to India, though many have earned their name in chess- the grandmaster moniker remains reserved for the resident ‘Lightning Kid’ Viswanathan Anand.


But, Podium School is here to present you with a list of the Top 7 Indian Chess Grandmasters. Therefore, the next time you recount chess legends- you are able to recall their names and brilliant maneuvers on the chequered battleground!

The Game of Chess

Chess is a board game with 2 players. The goal of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king. This game is totally based on strategies and as a result, you need to use more than common sense. There are a lot of people in India who mastered this game at the national and international levels. They started playing chess at a small age and made their country proud. Read below to find out who are these prodigies.

Top 7 Chess Grandmasters in India

Here is a list of chess players in India who started playing as a kid and amazed the world with their performances.

Vishwanathan Anand

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As a child, he was known for his rapid playing speed in chess and he was regarded as the ‘lightning kid’. Vishwanathan firstly started playing chess at the age of six where his mother helped him in learning chess. He is the first chess grandmaster from India. Later on, Vishwanathan got Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and Padma Shree. He won the 2000 FIDE world chess championship by defeating Alexei Shirov in a six-game match. Vishwanathan held this title till 2002.

In 2006 He became the fourth player in history to pass the 2800 ELO mark on the FIDE rating list. When he was just 14 he get national success by winning the sub-junior championship with a score of 9/9 in 1983. At age of 15, in the year 1985, he became the youngest Indian to achieve the title of International Master. Anand became the national chess champion in 1986.

Koneru Humpy 

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Born in 1987, Andhra Pradesh, India, Koneru Humpy won three gold medals at the World Youth Chess Championship in 1997, 1998, and 2000 in the girls’ division. Koneru participated in the world junior girl championship and succeeded in it in 2001. She received Padma Shri in 2007, the Arjuna award in 2003, Cairns cup in 2020.

The title of Women’s World Rapid Chess Championship (2019), India’s youngest woman grandmaster (2001), Asia’s youngest woman young master (1999) were received by her. Her name ‘Humpy’, which was originally named ‘Hampi’ which reflects the word ‘champion’, Which amazingly reflects her real life as a champion.

Pentala Harikrishna

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At the age of 4, Pentala Harikrishna learned chess from his first coach, his grandfather Ranga Rao. Pentala was born in Andhra Pradesh, India, in 1986. He was the Commonwealth Champion in 2001 at the age of 15 years, World Junior Champion in 2004 at age of 18, and Asian Individual Champion in 2011 at age of 25.

Pentala got the title of ‘Grandmaster’ in 2001. He represented India at seven Chess Olympiads from 2000 to 2012. He was one of the best and known chess players in India.

Tania Sachdev

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Tania Sachdev is the 8th Indian player to achieve the title of women’s chess ‘grandmaster’ in 2005.

Taniya Sachdev is without any doubt one of the most known chess players from India. Just at the age of six, she showed interest in chess,  after which her parents supported her and gave her professional training to pursue her interest.

And the support and love, no wonder showed the results soon and she gained the title of an international player when she was just eight. 

Talking about her achievements, She won India’s National Women’s Premier Chess Championship in 2006 and 2007, the Women’s Asian Chess Championship in 2009,  Arjuna Award in 2009.

In 2016, Sachdev won the best woman’s prize at the Reykjavik Open and won the Commonwealth women’s champion title in Kalutara.

Darpan Irani

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Talking about chess grandmasters, we should not forget Darpan Irani. He is currently the highest-rated visually impaired chess player in India. Darpan Inani won his first under 14 open district tournament in the year 2007. 

He gained the title of youngest player to win the National blind chess championship in 2010. He also represented India at the world blind chess championship, in the same year (2010) and became the youngest to represent India in this championship. His achievements include a Bronze medal in the world Individual junior chess championship for the blind and visually impaired in 2013. 

He is the only Indian visually impaired chess player to have ever won an international prize at the Creon open chess tournament.

Rucha Pujari 

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Born in 1994, Rucha pujari is currently a Women’s international master. She got the title of Woman FIDE Master in 2006.

Rucha also at the age of six started playing chess along with her brother after which, there was no coming back.

Additionally, she is the recipient of the Shiv Chhatrapati Rajya Sports Award Recipient. Pujari is also qualified to represent India in more than 20 countries. She has more than 27 awards, 8 in the Asian chess championship, 4 in the commonwealth championship, and 15 in the national chess championship including 6 gold medals. 

Rucha is also the champion of the prestigious National woman challengers chess championship. With her strong candidature, she is a deserving pick for this list!

Adhiban Baskaran 

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Adhiban’s popular name was “Beast” for his hyper-aggressive style of playing, Adhiban Baskaran is currently the fourth highest-rated player in India.

In 2007 when he was just 15, Baskaran won the Asian under -16 championship in Tashkent.  In 2008 he won the U16 world youth championship. He was the youngest champion of the Indian national ‘B’ championship in 2008. He was the winner of the 47th Premier National Chess Championship 2009.

Top 10 Chess players in India

Parting Words

Though a lot of players have made it into the prestigious list, there are many names that remain unmentioned. . Whether we talk about Krishnan Sasikaran, Surya Shekhar Ganguly, or Srinath Narayanan, they all are great players. Such models of inspiration serve to remind us that the battle of razor wit is a huge challenge. Thus, these grandmasters have truly made the nation proud of their chess-playing abilities.

While we are at it, we would also encourage you to enroll in our online Chess course. With experienced faculty and our specially designed courses- you can begin your journey of becoming a chess grandmaster with Podium! We would like to mention with immense pride that Abhimanyu Mishra- the world’s youngest Chess grandmaster is one of our Special mentors for the program! That’s all the more reason to trust us and begin your Chess journey right away!

You can also check up regularly on our Chess Archives at the Podium Blog to find out more facts, defense tactics, and special moves in Chess!

Till then, happy playing!

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