Grandmaster P. Harikrishna feels the lockdowns and emergencies across the world may not actually discomfit a chess player, for they prefer isolation anyway!

“But, this kind of isolation is certainly not pleasant, for there is so much uncertainty around the world,” he says.

Sponsors’ plight

“And, when it comes to tournaments, I think it will take a lot of time for sponsors to regroup and get back to hosting sporting events once the situation improves,” he says.

“I have learnt that many sponsors, of not just chess, have suffered huge losses. It cannot be said how many of them will recover and how quickly. Sports will be badly hit because of the impact on economy,” said Harikrishna in an exclusive chat with The Hindu from Prague, where he has been staying since 2018 after marrying Nadezda Stojanovic, the Serbian chess prodigy.

“Yes, we have to be optimistic, hopeful of a dramatic improvement of the situation. But, again, not that easy given this coronavirus has hit world economy very badly,” he said.

India’s third highest-rated player, after Viswanathan Anand (2753) and Vidit Gujrati (2726), and former World junior champion also felt it was strange the Candidates matches in Russia was at one time the only sporting event being held, but it was also cancelled subsequently, after seven rounds.

“I felt they should not have even begun it. It was not as if we were expecting things to worsen, but the hints were there. Perhaps, no one understood fully the gravity of the situation,” he reasoned.

“The fact is there were two Chinese players in the Candidates matches and their families too would have been worried about the developing situation,” Harikrishna said.

New experience

But, the Candidates also presented the 33-year-old Hyderabadi a first-time experience — commentating for a website.

“At the last World championship I had done commentary, but it was more of a summary of the day’s play. Here, I had to pick the game of the day and make an in-depth analysis. Honestly, I enjoyed it thoroughly,” the World No. 27 said.

“I am in touch with my game thanks to the technology available and my wife’s company (she being a chess player). But, frankly, this is not the time to think of tournaments. Sport is secondary when the whole world is battling for survival. I sincerely pray everything will be okay soon,” Hari concluded from what is now his second home.

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