World chess champion Viswanathan Anand, who will defend his title in Moscow in May next, is the symbol of India's technological prowess and has made significant contribution in globalising the game, which originally emerged in his homeland, a top Russian chess coach-turned billionaire said.
"Like Bobby Fischer, Anand is the second 'lone genius', who finally smashed the hegemony of the Soviet chess school. He can be rightfully considered the symbol of India's development into one of the mightiest technological powers of the modern world," Russian oligarch Andrei Filatov, sponsor of forthcoming match for the chess crown here told PTI in an interview.
"The current successes of Indian mathematicians and programmers in a way are the continuation of Anand's feat, which he has been demonstrating throughout his carrier beginning from the early 1990s," he said.
Filatov, a billionaire who co-owns railway and port operator N-Trans group, ranks 93 in the Forbes list of Russia's rich with USD 1.1 billion net worth in March 2011.
Born in Soviet Ukraine, Filatov, 39, graduated as a chess teacher and coach from the Academy of Physical Culture and Sports in the Belarus capital Minsk before he established one of the largest and effective infrastructure and logistics companies after the fall of Communism and USSR's collapse.
Filatov credited Anand with amazing rise in the popularity of chess in Asia.
"The credit for expanding the geography of chess in the East at the highest level, no doubt goes to Anand, he became the locomotive for the development of chess not only in India, but also China," Filatov said.
Filatov, who is sponsoring the Moscow match between Anand and Israel's challenger Boris Gelfand for the International Chess Federation (FIDE) crown carrying USD 2 million 550 thousand prize money, recalled that the two Grandmasters had for the first time locked horns in 1992 at the Alyokhin Memorial Tournament in the Russian capital.
"It was Anand's first triumph in a major international tournament. It's quite interesting that then in 1992 Anand had shared the first prize with Gelfand. And now the same grandmaster Gelfand will be challenging his chess crown here in Moscow," Filatov said.
Fuelled by the massive inflow of petrodollars Russia has been surprising the world with its activity in winning the rights to hold major sport events including the World University Games in Kazan in 2013, Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014, the World Cup football in 2018.
And now after quarter a century FIDE would be again holding the prestigious match for the chess crown in Moscow in May 2012.
Responding to a question about what prompted him to sponsor the match, Filatov said it is no secret that sponsorship, especially in sport, is a weak point among Russian businessmen.
"Huge sums of money are spent for acquiring assets abroad including yachts, airplanes, or just parking money abroad for profitable capitalisation," he said in an obvious reference to Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich and American basketball club New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
Filatov said he was sponsoring the chess championship match "purely out of love for the game".
"Anand and Gelfand are great chess players. I have no doubt that their match here will become one of the most interesting event in the modern history of chess," Filatov, the main investor for Moscow's bid said.