Still Stuck In Germany, Anand Joins COVID-19 Initiatives
Viswanathan Anand. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Still Stuck In Germany, Anand Joins COVID-19 Initiatives

| 20 | Chess Players

Still not able to fly back home and unite with his family, GM Viswanathan Anand has posted a video message related to the COVID-19 crisis as other Indian players are also speaking out.

Anand has now been in Germany for just under a month, unable to travel back to his wife and son in Chennai, India. After providing commentary for on the FIDE Candidates tournament from Europe, the five-time world champion now spends his time like so many of us in these strange times,  mostly inside his place in Frankfurt, where he has spent many weeks when preparing for his world championship matches.

Why Germany? Well, he was supposed to play for his team OSG Baden-Baden in the Bundesliga on March 14 and 15, but these playing days and the remainder of the season have been canceled due to the coronavirus crisis—which also halted normal air traffic between Germany and India.

It's not the first time that Anand has been unable to fly. A decade ago, he intended to take a plane from Frankfurt to Sofia with his team for his world championship match with GM Veselin Topalov, but air traffic in Europe was disrupted due to the eruptions of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull. Instead, a van was rented, and after a 40-hour trip, during which his team famously watched the complete "Lord of the Rings" series, he arrived and ended up beating Topalov.

On Monday, the official Twitter account of India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting posted a tweet with a wonderful video message from Anand, intended for Indian citizens but also valuable for anyone else. In it, he mentions his son Akhil, with whom he is playing on ChessKid every now and then as well.

A transcript of the message:

"I’ve now been isolated at home for over two weeks away from my family unfortunately and I know that most of you are doing the same, but I wanted to urge you to continue this till the end of the lockdown. This is very important because everything which seems natural and healthy like having social relationships, meeting people, going out for fresh air actually helps this virus to spread easily. So it’s very important we do this, and this allows us to help the healthcare workers and the government and all the people who are out there in the front line because we minimize the transmission. We should stay at home, protect ourselves, and protect others by withholding contact, by not shaking hands, by always keeping a few meters distance if you see someone, but most importantly, staying at home we stop the transmission and that is the most important thing we can do.

"We should understand that those who are in the front lines, mainly government workers, people in healthcare, nurses, doctors, people who are getting supplies across, they should work with minimum interference and very often they are working to a plan which may not be evident to us so we should trust them and let them go about their work without asking questions.

"If you can, please donate or find some way of letting these people know how much you appreciate the sacrifice they are doing and how hard it is for them and try to lift their morale a little bit.

"Finally, the most important thing we can do is not to allow ourselves to get depressed. We should try to keep a positive attitude, a little bit of exercise during the day, social contact through the internet or sending each other videos, these are excellent ways to cheer each other up. We have to maintain positivity. My son, for instance, is enjoying these little chances to go to the balcony and show a light or thank our doctors in some other way. These kinds of events, if carefully controlled, are a nice way to maintain positivity. He is also taken to drawing about the coronavirus and its impact on us. It’s an interesting way to let out your feelings so I feel that if we can all find our little way of coping, we just need to hang in there, we are more than halfway across the lockdown period, and if we just hang in there we will come out of this well, but this is the crucial moment. This is when we should not relax our efforts. Thank you all."

A day later, Anand suggested a charity via a tweet.

Two of Anand's colleagues have also sent video messages, via the Twitter account of their sponsor, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC).

Here's GM Humpy Koneru:

"This is grandmaster Koneru Humpy, a proud ONGCian. We are one nation, we are one people. Crisis unites us. Adversities strengthen us. In these times of adversity, we salute all the health workers and government agencies, working day and night to save the people. We in ONGC are doing the same, working non-stop in adverse conditions to ensure that energy resources keep flowing and India stands tall in its fight against an unseen enemy. Please follow social distancing norms, stay home, stay safe and follow all government guidelines. We are here to make a difference. Jai Hind!"

And here's GM Krishnan Sasikiran:

"I am Krishnan Sasikiran, Arjuna Awardee and a proud ONGCian. Friends, these are difficult times and the nation needs to be united in this hour of crisis. Our brothers and sisters in the health sector, sanitation, arm forces, media, delivery and other services are working night and day to save lives, harnessing resources to ensure that every citizen is taken care of. We in ONGC are doing the same. Our energy soldiers continue to work night and day in some remote inhospitable locations to ensure India's energy needs are met. These difficult times demand from us to stay home, stay safe, maintain social distance and observe all norms issued by the government. We are here to make a difference. Jai Hind!"

Six of India's best players will offer simultaneous exhibitions on to support the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund. Set to start on Saturday, April 11, at 6 a.m. Pacific Time (14:00 CEST, 6:30 p.m. Indian Standard Time), former world champion GM Viswanathan Anand will be joined by GMs Pentala Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi, Baskaran Adhiban, Humpy Koneru, and Harika Dronavalli as they each will offer a twenty-board simultaneous exhibition for donors to take place on Find more info here.

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