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Viswanathan Anand’s mother passes away

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"A tower of strength," was how India’s first International Master, Manuel Aaron, described her.

Sushila Viswanathan, mother of five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand, passed away here on Wednesday. She was 79.

Hailing from a family of lawyers who played chess, her contribution towards Anand’s success was immense. She shaped Anand’s budding chess career, was perhaps his first sparring partner, accompanied him to various tournaments and nurtured him into a champion.

“A tower of strength,” was how India’s first International Master, Manuel Aaron, described her.

“She had been his mentor and guide all his life, a very nice and gentle lady who always had a smile on her face,” he told The Hindu.

“In his early days, Anand had to struggle for government support,” recalled Aaron. “Then she used to call up the government agencies to check whether her son’s name had been cleared and so on. There was no STD facility then. She had to place trunk calls.

“She once jokingly told me, ‘If I had not made all those phone calls, I would have had enough money to take my son half way round the world.’”

Aaron also recollected his visit to the Anand household in 2000 to congratulate him on his first World Championship title win after defeating Alexei Shirov. “When I went there, she was discussing some of the moves. And all of them were relevant moves. She was not only a good mother but also a very good chess player.”

Grandmaster R.B. Ramesh, who runs Chess Gurukul in the city and was the coach of the Indian team, which won a bronze medal in the Tromso Olympiad in Norway last year, dwelt on how important a role she played in Anand’s formative years.

“For a young child, to take up a game like chess it is important for them to not lose interest,” he said. “Due to parents’ high expectations and other things, it does happen. So it is very important to nurture the interest in them and that needs proper mentoring. Anand’s mother played that role very well.

“Without Anand it’s tough to imagine Indian chess. Without his mother, it’s tough to imagine Anand,” he added.

“These days you see parents go aggressive,” said Aaron. “They are too anxious. They have their own opinion of their children which others and the association people might not share. But she was never that. And she never complained.”

In an official release, P.R. Venkatarama Raja, President, All India Chess Federation, expressed his heartfelt condolence on her demise.

She leaves behind her husband, K. Viswanathan, Retd. General Manager of the Southern Railway, a daughter and two sons of whom Anand is the youngest.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 11:52:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/viswanathan-anands-mother-passes-away/article7252466.ece

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