CHENNAI: Playing chess since he was six years old, Viswanathan Anand has forayed into all forms of the game for over 30 years.
“I haven’t made any concrete plans on retiring but I don’t see myself playing international chess beyond three or four years from now,” said the 45-year-old chess icon.
However, he put his skills to use for charity on Monday, playing chess with the employees of Johnson and Johnson in a fundraising event, the proceeds of which will go for treating children with cleft lip and palate – a condition that makes an opening on their upper lip rendering them unable to speak.
It was indeed a change to witness Anand speak about his contribution to this philanthropic activity. He went on to say, “Having a cleft lip is not only a cosmetic deformity but it affects a child’s ability to speak, breathe and even his acceptance in society. The bright side is that the condition can be treated within 45 minutes with the right equipment. I wanted to help out and immediately accepted when approached with this offer. This is one of the best uses playing chess can be put to.”
Beside Anand, craniofacial surgeon William P Magee, who is also the CEO of Operation Smile, a non-profit organisation that works on reconstructive facial surgery, Srikant Ramaswami, VP of Johnson and Johnson, Vladimir Makatsaria, group chairman, Johnson and Johnson Asia Pacific region, and Sushobhan Dasgupta, Managing Director, Johnson & Johnson Medical India and vice-president – LifeScan, Asia Pacific region, were also present at a press conference.
The chess matches with him are a part of Johnson and Johnson, Asia Pacific and Operation Smile’s campaign that kickstarted in August. So far, 440 smiles have been created from the proceeds of chess matches played among employees of Johnson and Johnson.