Vishwanathan Anand

Vishwanathan Anand—inarguably the biggest champion of Indian sports who has kept the country’s flag flying high through his superlative performance over two decades. After winning Bilbao Masters Chess in September 2014 now Anand will be challenging World No. 1 and defending champion Magnus Carlsen in Sochi in November this year in the World Championship. The reigning world champion who regained the most coveted crown for the second time by winning the FIDE World Championship Tournament held in Mexico City in September 2007 is a happy man.

Top rated player in the Asian region

Anand is one of six players in history to snap the 2800 mark, peaking at 2817 in 2011. He remains the top rated player in the Asian region. Clearing airs about his retirement plans in 2007 and his desire to join the administration of the game, the chess Grandmaster rubbished everything saying that he will continue playing chess as long as he can. “I will be into competitive chess as long as I can. Neither I have any plans of being into the administration of chess whether national or international,” he said. Contrary to that, Anand joined the Board of Directors of Olympic Gold Quest in August 2010.

Anand is the only world champion who won the world championship playing in all different formats (Match, Tournament, and Knockout). Anand said, “Chess is a unique sport that helps build mind champions. It touches young people in many ways, enabling them to improve their concentration, and help them accelerate their success in academics. Our effort is to provide a platform to young minds to get initiated into the game of chess.”

Explaining that chess like any other sport demanded physical fitness, Anand said, “Being a chess player also demands physical fitness. You have to be healthy, eat well and some sort of exercise is required to freshen up the mind. Mental activities lead to stress and that stress has to be handled wisely with refreshing exercise. For me I spend two hours in the gym.

Anand had some tips for youngsters as well. “Hard work and practice helps you put up a good show. Chess has grown steadily since I started. Competition is getting stiffer and that is increasing the level of the game as well. So there is no short cut to hard work,” said Anand who has won the World Chess Championship five times (2000, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012).

Dedicated player

Anand tasted victory in his early career when he won the National Sub-Junior Chess Championship at the age of fourteen. By the age of fifteen, he became the youngest Indian to win the title of International Master. At the age of sixteen he became the National Chess Champion and grabbed it twice again. He was awarded Padma Shri at the age of 18. So, Anand had already proven his worth in his early years. He went on proving his dedication to the sport with improved performances every time.

Vishy’s Assessment

“Vishy”, as he is sometimes called by his friends, burst upon the upper echelons of the chess scene in the early 1990s, winning such tournaments as Reggio Emilia 1991 (ahead of Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov). Playing at such a high level did not slow him down, and he continued to play games at blitz speed.

Lubomir Kavalek describes Anand as the most versatile world champion ever, pointing out that Anand is the only player to have won the world chess championship in tournament, match, and knockout format, as well as rapid time controls.

In an interview in 2011, Kramnik said about Anand: “I always considered him to be a colossal talent, one of the greatest in the whole history of chess”; and “I think that in terms of play Anand is in no way weaker than Kasparov but he’s simply a little lazy, relaxed and only focuses on matches. In the last 5–6 years he’s made a qualitative leap that’s made it possible to consider him one of the great chess players.”

In an interview in 2014 Alexander Grischuk said about Anand: “I have to say that of all the players I’ve played against Anand has personally struck me as the strongest, of course after Kasparov.”

How it Started

Anand got into chess because of his mother and a close family friend. Introduced to chess at the age of six, Anand solved puzzles shown on a TV local channel in Phillipines. Honing his skills, he went on winning books from these shows. At this point he had already proven his mental agility towards the game. From that little boy he went on winning professional titles and created a reputation of his own by being deeply into chess and not intruding into any other political or federation matters. Apart from that, Vishwanathan Anand endorses a few brands namely – Parle-G, TVH, Vidyasagar, NIIT and AMD.

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