The explosion of chess prodigies has heralded a new era of Indian exploits on the 64-square board dominated not so long ago by the Russians and East Europeans.
The high tide in Indian chess scenario is evident from the recent wins by P Harikrishna at the Commonwealth, K Humpy at world junior and Surya Sekhar Ganguly's creditable third in the Asian Chess championships.
They put back the disappointment that came after players like Dibyendu Barua, D V Prasad and Parvin Thipsay failed to live up to their early promises.
Though Germany holds the record of having the most number of Fide rated players, India is fast catching up with a host of youngsters coming up with reassuring regularity.
The early careers of grandmaster Harikrishna, 15, and 18-year old international master Ganguly were somewhat similar. The early trainers of the chess whizkids were their grandfathers.
T Ranga Rao, Harikrishna's grandfather, was awestruck by the five-year old's brilliance with braingames. Instead of listening to fairy tales from his grandpa the kid used to test wits with him, leading the grandfather to predict that the family had a genius.
Ranga Rao's intuition came true when his grandson surpassed legendary Vishwanathan Anand's record who had the honour of becoming India's first and youngest GM in 1987.
"I knew we had a talent in the family and one day he would become a great player," Ranga Rao was quoted after Harikrishna went on to defeat GM Dimitri Anagostopoulos of Greece in the final round to win the recent Commonwealth chess gold.
Elated with her son's latest feat on the 64-square board mother Padmavati echoed, "I know he will become a world champion one day."
Of course, Harikrishna did emerge world champion in 1996, but in a different age group (under-10), and is now preparing for the world championship to be held in Moscow in December.
Considered one among the many talented names in the country, Ganguly was also introduced to the chequered board by his grandfather, Anil Basu, when he was five.
"After initial losses to my grandfather I began to puzzle him with easy wins," said Ganguly, now a student of Scottish Church Collegiate School.
Encouraged by his grandfather, his skills during the YMCA tournament caught the eyes of Abhijit Mazumdar who took up the job to sharpen Ganguly's skills.
With a number of national age-group titles in his pocket, he has done reasonably well at the international level too during 1991-93 Ganguly won three national and two international titles -- champion in the national U-10 and U-12, retained the U-12 title in 1995, junior national champion in 1999, bronze in Poland (U-10) in 1991 and bronze in Slovakia under-10 1993, besides the bronze in the recent Asian chess championship.
Ganguly who has one GM-norm may still be looking for more but he has already done enough to attract experts to sit and notice his potential.
"It depends what type of tournaments I play," he said on his remaining GM-norms to join the steadily bulging GM club. His next halt is in Delhi where he will join four others for the world championship.
"It's really a great feeling to be a part where Anand figures," said the soft spoken Ganguly. He reserved his right on preparations for the championship.
Unlike Harikrishna and Ganguly, Humpy's introducer was her father Ashok who was bewitched at his daughter's quick understanding of the game at just four years of age.
She sat beside her father 10 years ago as Ashok, a Fide rated player, thought hard about his next move. Humpy's witty prompting that urged him to checkmate his friend convinced him to believe that a world champion-in-making was at home. Now she has four world titles in different age groups to her credit.
The decision of Humpy's father to give up a lecturer's job to guide his daughter proved worthy the day she became Asia's youngest international master and later followed woman grandmaster S Vijayalakshmi to become the second WGM.
The promising career of the 14-year old Humpy, who realised her dream to emulate her childhood heroine Judith Polgar by becoming GM in June at the international masters chess meet, kicked off in 1997 when she annexed the world chess championship (under-10) girls crown played in the French city of Cannes.
The new Indian queen of the black and white board who has 2387 elo points idolises superstars Vishwanathan Anand and Russian Gary Kasparov and keenly follows their moves to sharpen her already matured game.
Humpy, who returned after the stupendous victory at world junior chess championship at Athens, has set her eyes on the world championship.
The emergence of new chess brains has given the enthusiasts more to cheer about at a time when the sport is trying to squeeze into Olympics.
This article was published in AsianAge. Sad that achievements of kids like this are gone unnoticed by many Indian Newspapers. They are busy reporting our disastrous defeats in cricket matches that are already fixed by our great players!