Rakesh Rao

NEW DELHI: “I have practised for ten hours a day for twenty years — and now they call me a genius!”

These words of a famous Scottish violinist fit Viswanathan Anand well. The 38-year-old caught the eye of the chess world as a ‘lightening kid’ in the early 1980s and before long it was for everyone to note that this Indian was clearly the brightest non-Russian talent in the game after Bobby Fischer.

Anand, who became the undisputed champion of the world with a masterly performance in Mexico City on Saturday, has reaped the harvest for his disciplined and dedicated approach to the goals he had set from an early age. All along, his humility has kept him a notch higher even in the league of champions. Few disciplines have a winner like Anand.

Most sought after

Based near Madrid for over ten years, Anand is a most-sought after celebrity in Spain. It is in India that he and his wife (Aruna) can pass of unnoticed. In Spain, they are mobbed. No wonder, his triumph in Mexico City would have triggered celebrations in his adopted country too.

In Mexico, as the World No. 1, Anand started as an obvious favourite in a very tough field. As the script unfolded, Anand never trailed in the competition, emerged as the front-runner for the better part of the contest and carefully slowed down on the home stretch to win with comfortable margin.

The triumph also made Anand the only winner in the history of the championship to win in two different formats. In 2000, Anand won in a 128-player knockout format by beating Alexei Shirov in the final. This year, it was a eight-man 14-round double round-robin contest.

In fact, Anand will get an opportunity to retain the title in a third format should he beat dethroned champion-turned-challenger Vladimir Kramnik next year. As per the new World championship rules adopted by FIDE, the future world champion will be now be decided through matches between the defending champion and a challenger.

Stupendous march

Anand’s undefeated march in Mexico was a stupendous one in a field that had Kramnik and Peter Leko, the two who played the world title-match in 2004. Before long, it was clear that Anand was one of the better-prepared players in the field.

His main second, Denmark’s Peter Heine Nielsen obviously did a splendid job. “It was Nielsen’s novelty that proved crucial in the game against Aronian,” was how Anand acknowledged his contribution after winning the second round.

From June to August, Anand has worked hard towards the title. He took the help of Kolkata-based GM Sandipan Chanda in certain areas. So the well-prepared Anand was ready to give his best aimed at winning the biggest title of his career.

At hindsight, it was a reward for Anand’s temperament and tenacity, hardwork and humility. By his amazing deeds over the chessboard, Anand remains the greatest Indian Ambassador in the global sporting arena. His well-rounded personality goes well with his exploits in the chess world. Finally, the chess world, mired in controversies for 14 years, has a champion of the masses.

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