Chennai, Oct 22 (UNI) Grand Master Viswanathan Anand, overwhelmed by another glittering felicitation, the latest by the All India Chess Federation (AICF) here this evening to become the world champion for a second time, today lauded the efforts of both the Asian Chess Federation and the AICF.
''Asian chess has been growing from strength to strength of late and I hope it will continue to ride high under the stewardship of Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifah Al Nahyan, its President,'' Anand said replying to the felicitation, attended by not just other chess stars like Koneru Humpy, Dronavalli Harika, GM Dibyendu Barua, India's age group world champions, heads of many state associations, but also some Indian cricketers including former captain K Srikkanth, former batsman W V Raman, V B Chandrasekhar, L Balaji, table tennis star S Raman and Tamil Nadu Ranji team cricketers.
Hailing the efforts of the new AICF President N Srinivasan of India Cements Limited, he said ''I can see that chess has been benefitting from his leadership. Mr Srinivasan has been giving the sport the right direction.'' Thanking former India captain Rahul Dravid for turning up for his sake as the guest of honour along with Sheikh Khalifah, Anand said watching Dravid play and reading about him revealed that both had similar personalities.
''His attitude and personality are fairly similar to mine. He is the Wall and I am the tiger of Chennai, as they have been calling me. I don't know,'' he said, amidst thunderous applause from the audience.
Hailing Anand, Dravid said winning the world crown for a second time showed Anand's sharp intellect, determination and grit. ''He has achieved so much. He has been a true inspiration. And he has been showing the way to other sportspersons,'' the Karnataka star observed.
He noted that Anand made this journey to the top on his own, just as Prakash Padukone who had put Indian badminton on the world map.
''He has laid down the path for so many others. That's fantastic.
He is truly the country's best sportsperson,'' Dravid said.
The AICF presented a cash award of Rs ten lakh to Anand in appreciation of his feat. The Punjab Chess Association President presented a replica of the Golden Temple in Amritsar to Anand, who received it as the Sikhs traditionally pray.
Sheikh Khalifah and Mr Srinivasan also lauded Anand as the beacon for upcoming chess players, especially the youth in Asia and India.