With his defence of the world chess title recently, Viswanathan Anand shows why he's the best in the game.
Viswanathan Anand's successful defence of the world chess title last week in Sofia, Bulgaria, is another proof of the man's never-say-die attitude. Playing against home favourite and world number two Veselin Topalov the 40-year-old Anand completed a 6.5-5.5 victory in the 12-game match.
Cracking the code
Anand, who started the campaign by losing the first game, dramatically won the final encounter to seal Topalov's fate. The triumph was worth a whopping 1.20 million Euros for Anand. The match, watched live on the internet by millions around the world, produced many thrilling moments. The excitement generated by the match grew with every passing result as two of the finest exponents of the cerebral sport tested each other. Anand won the second game to draw level and then took the lead by inflicting a crushing defeat on Topalov in the fourth. The Bulgarian hit back in the eighth game and restored parity. After a couple of nervous draws, Topalov cracked under pressure. As Topalov admitted later, he was desperate to win the final game with white pieces and avoid going into the four-game rapid chess tie-breaker. The rapid version of the game, where both players get 25 minutes of thinking time plus five-second increment for every move made, suited Anand more. In fact, Anand has lost only once to Topalov in 12 decisive head to head battles. This was Anand's fourth world title in a decade. In 2000, Anand won his first world title at Teheran by beating Alexei Shirov in the final. Here the title was decided on a knockout format. In 2007, in a select eight-player league format, Anand triumphed. The following year, Anand defeated Russia's previously- undefeated Vladimir Kramnik with a game to spare in their much-anticipated world title clash. This triumph made Anand the only player ever to win the world title under three different formats.
By stopping Topalov, Anand not only reinforced the belief that he is the most complete player among his peers but also firmed up his place among the greats of the game. Unlike many legendary names in chess, mostly from the erstwhile Soviet Union, Anand is not a product of any system. He overcame the odds facing him as a teenager, decided to make Spain his home away from home to be able to play easily in Europe, and never lost sight of his dreams.
High success rate
His rate of success saw him climb the rating charts with amazing consistency. He has won almost every big title in the game at least twice. Anand has not only stamped his class in the classical time format but also proved formidable in the shorter time versions, like rapid and blitz chess. Anand is a role model for millions of chess lovers around the world. This articulate man from Chennai is the best sporting ambassador from the country. In over 160 countries, where chess is played, Anand is synonymous with a champion, known for his humility and appropriate ways. He is universally acknowledged as one of the best champions the game has produced.
Partnership with NIIT
In a bid to give back to the game, Anand has joined hands with the IT major NIIT to introduce chess among IT students around the country. Since it is a well-established fact that chess improves a student's ability to concentrate and proceed logically in challenging situations, the initiative taken by Anand is sure to encourage more and more players to play competitively. This in turn will help broaden the base of the players in the country and produce worthy champions. Indeed, a worthy effort from arguably the greatest Indian sportsperson in any individual sporting discipline.
Born to Susheela and Viswanathan on December 11, 1969
A commerce graduate, lives with wife Aruna in Spain.
Learnt to play chess at the age of six from his mother.
Won National sub-junior championship in 1983.
Became International Master in 1984.
Became the youngest National champion in 1985 at age 16.
World junior champion in 1987.
India's first Grandmaster in 1987.
World champion in 2000, 2007, 2008 and 2010.
Only player in the 122-year history of World championship to win in three different formats: knockout, tournament and match.
Fourth player – after Garry Kasparov (Russia), Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) and Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) - to cross international rating of 2800.
Achieved a career-high of rating of 2803 in April 2006.
World Cup winner in 2000 and 2002.
World rapid (25-minute) chess champion in 2003.
World blitz (5-minute) champion in 2000.
Ranked World No. 1 from April to December 2007 and again from April to September 2008.
Remained in the top three in the world from January 1997 to September 2008. Continues to be in the World's top-10 list since July 1991.
Only player to have won the prestigious Corus title at Wijk aan Zee, Holland, five times – in 1989, 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006. He has also won the two other major tournaments at Linares, Spain (1998, 2007 and 2008) and at Dortmund, Germany (1996, 2000 and 2004).
Undefeated champion of the annual Mainz Chess Classics since 2001.
Only player to win the blindfold and rapid sections of the annual Amber tournament twice, in 1997 and 2005.
Chosen for prestigious Chess Oscar in 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, and 2007
Recipient of Padma Vibhushan (2007), Padma Bhushan (2000) and Padma Shri (1987).
First recipient of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (1991-92).
Recipient of Arjuna Award (1985).