The period was around the 1950s. While the world had great players like Botvinnik, Tal and also the upcoming Fischer, chess in India was absolutely undeveloped. People all over the nation were playing a game that resembled chess but with no fixed rules. In such a situation arose a man from Tamil Nadu, India, who single-handedly popularized the game of chess in the country.
Manuel Aaron was born on the 30th of December 1935. So today this legend celebrates his 79th birthday.
Manuel Aaron, the first International Master of India and also the author of the recently published Indian chess history (picture taken at the World Juniors, Pune in October 2014)
Today chess is my profession as well as the most beloved thing in my life. I cannot imagine what I would be doing without this game. This would not have been possible without the efforts of the great man called Manuel Aaron. He gave the game of chess an identity in India. He made a lot of forums and groups thereby systematizing this sport.
Father Manuel with his son Arvind. Both of them have successfully managed one of India's top chess magazine called Chess-Mate for years
Aaron was the only active chess player that India had in the sixties. India got its next international master V.Ravi in 1978. That means Aaron was one man army for nearly 17 years in Indian chess. He won the National title nine times.
Manuel Aaron was the first chess player to win the Arjuna Award
He became one of the strongest chess players in Asia and qualified for the Stockholm Interzonal in 1962. It was an amazing tournament with all the top players playing in it. Look at the top players of that tournament.
Bobby Fischer, Geller, Petrosian, Korchnoi, Filip, Gligoric, Benko! Phew! What a list!
Aaron finished last in the tournament but not before he had inflicted defeats on two great players Portisch and Uhlmann.
Here are both the games for you to have a look:
Even against the great Bobby Fischer, Aaron had a pretty decent position but I guess he lost due to some excessive respect for his opponent.
Aaron had even beaten the fifth world champion Max Euwe with a huge pawn storm:
A player who has faced the best!
Today I take this opportunity on behalf of all the chess players of India to wish not only a happy birthday to Manuel Aaron but also to thank him for making chess one of the most popular and lovable sports in the country.
Without your efforts sir, it would not have been possible.
Pictures by Amruta Mokal