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Former World No. 1 Chess Grandmaster Backs Indian Poker League

Viswanathan Anand Signs On As Brand Ambassador

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Times of IndiaA fledgling poker league in India has announced a high-profile signing from the world of so-called “mind sports.”

The Poker Sports League and former world no. 1 chess champion Viswanathan Anand inked a deal under which the Grandmaster will serve as brand ambassador for the league. Anand, who became India’s first Grandmaster in 1988, developed a love for the game of poker in recent years.

His work with the PSL is expected to further the game in his home country. India has been described as a booming poker market by some of the heaviest hitters in the industry, including the world’s most-played poker portal.

“In the last couple of years, we have been observing a paradigm shift in people’s mindset for poker as a sport," Anand said in a statement. “The zeal displayed by poker lovers has given rise to a lot of platforms which are not only encouraging the sport in India but also opening doors for youngsters who are keen to explore a career in the game.”

The cross-over between chess and poker has been well-documented over the years, with prominent poker players such as Martin Staszko and Jennifer Shahade having backgrounds on the chess board. Just this past summer at the World Series of Poker, Austrian International Master Ivo Donev made a final table in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship.

“My association with PSL is an attempt to establish the fact that poker, like chess, is indeed a game of skill, which involves a lot of strategy and a defined skill set," Anand added. “I have played chess all my life and when I was introduced to poker I could instantly draw the parallels.”

Anand, who was world chess champion as recently as 2013, currently sits at no. 9 globally. The 48-year-old suffered a defeat at the 2013 world championships to Magnus Carlsen, who has also publicized his interest in poker.

 
 
Tags: India,   Chess,   Viswanathan Anand