Thursday, January 17, 2008

Viswanathan Anand, who turned 35 in December 2004, has throughout his career, for almost 20 years now, been way ahead of his times and peers. One of the best known non-Russian and Asian chess players, Anand has often been given sobriquets like “Lightning Kid” and "Vishy, the Tiger from Madras". Born on December 11, 1969, he picked his early lessons in chess, at the age of six from his mother, Susila Viswanathan.By 14 he was the “Boy Wonder” in Indian chess and his assets, lightning speed, ability to see and read the game far ahead besides on-board intuition saw him emerge as the Youngest Indian National Champion at age of 16.In 1987 he became the First Asian to win the World Junior Championship at Baguio City in the Philippines. The same year he became the first Indian to earn the coveted Grandmaster title.As he grew in strength and reputation, in 1991, he won the strongest tournament at that time, The “Reggio Emilia” in Italy in 1991 ahead of Kasparov & Karpov.The pinnacle of his career was achieved on December 24, 2000 when Anand became the 15th World Chess Champion in Teheran. Anand won the championship by remaining unbeaten. By winning the title, Anand becomes the First Asian to win the title ending many years of Soviet Domination of the Ancient Indian game.
2004 has been a year of superlatives for Anand. If 2003 made him the “Speed king”. 2004 saw him become the absolute king of Chess. Anand won both rapid and classical chess events. He started his winning spree at the Corus event in Wijk Aan Zee. Anand won the historic Corus Chess Tournament for the fourth time. Anand now joins an exclusive club of players that includes former World Chess Champion Max Euwe, Lajos Portisch, Viktor Kortchnoi. He also won the Dortmund Schachtage by defeating Vladmir Kramnik in the finals. The year also saw Anand make a comeback to the Chess Olympiad after a gap of 12 years. Anand for the first time in Indian chess history captained an all Grandmaster team. Although the team finished sixth, Anand emerged as one of the top scorers on the Olympiad
The year 2003 has again been one where Anand has achieved tremendous success. With six wins in nine starts tournaments, it has been stupendous, for the other three events have also seen him figure in top three. The star performance of the year came from the World Rapid Championships in Capd’Agde where Anand beat Vladimir Kramnik in the finals to clinch the title. That kind of performance won him the exalted chess Oscars for the third time. In a poll conducted over 65 countries, Anand was placed first in 232 lists while Peter Svidler who was placed first got a first place in 35 lists. With this Oscar, Anand joins the chess legend Bobby Fischer in being the only two non-Russians to have won the Oscars after the tradition was reinitiated.
If 2002 was a year of hat-trick, in 2003, Anand went one better. He won the Corsica Masters and the Chess Classic of Mainz for the fourth straight time. In addition, he also won the Melody Amber title for the third time. To these he also added successes in official World Rapid Chess Championships, and SIS-SMH Masters in Denmark with an amazing score of 5.5 out of a maximum six.
Listing all of Anand’s wins is indeed an arduous task, but some of the biggest successes include, the Corus Super GM tournament at Wijk Aan Zee (1988, 1998, 2003 and 2004), Dortmund (1996, 2000 and 2004), Melody Amber tournament (1994 & 1997 and 2003), Reggio Emilia (1991), Groningen (1997), Linares (1998), the Credit Suisse Masters (1997), Dos Hermanas (1997), Torneo de Madrid (1998), Tilburg (1998), Merida (2001), Corsica Masters (2000, 2001, 2002 ,2003 and 2004) and Chess Classic of Mainz (2000, 2001, 2002 , 2003 and 2004), World Cup (2002 and 2000) and Eurotel Trophy (2002),
Anand enjoys playing different varieties of chess. He especially enjoys the advanced chess, wherein computers are at hand for calculations and database searches. Anand has won three editions of the Leon Advanced Chess tournament in Spain (1999,2000 and 2001).
In 2004 Anand took his performance in rapid chess to a new height by winning two of the most prestigious rapid. The Indian Speed Chess king won the Mainz Chess Classic for the fourth consecutive time and the Corsica masters for the fifth time running. He also won the Rapids of the Amber Blind and Rapid Chess event in Monaco. Anand continued his rapid chess exploits by winning the Desafio de Xadrez in Sao Paolo by defeating all his opponents at least once in the event. The Rapid Chess King also created a record of sorts by winning the Paul Keres memorial in Tallinn, Estonia with a perfect 5/5 score. A very tough record to beat. Anand is the winner of the First and Second FIDE World Cup held in Shenyang (2000) and Hyderabad (2002). The World Cups are a series of prestigious knock out tournaments.
Anand has been awarded many prestigious titles in India like the Arjuna Award, the prestigious Padma Shri (the youngest recipient of the title), the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the Soviet Land Nehru award, the BPL Achievers of the World, Sportstar, Sportsworld “Sportsman of the year 1995” Award, One of the highest awards, the Padma Bhushan, the Sportstar, “Sportsman of the Millennium” award and the Birla “Living Legends Award”.
Anand received the "Jameo de Oro", One of Spain's highest civilian award given to a foreigner.
Anand, known as the “One man Indian Chess revolution”, keenly promotes the game, through innovative methods in the country, where the game first originated. It is his ambition to be able to take chess to the grass roots level. In conjunction with NIIT, his global sponsor a virtual academy to make chess available to every nook and corner of the country is on the anvil. Anand regularly collaborates with young Indian chess players to help make existing talent reach higher.
His first book “My best games of Chess” has been released in English and German. Anand shares his time between India and Spain. Being Fluent in Spanish, the little town of Collado Mediano near Madrid has adopted him as their “Hijo Predelicto” or famous son.
A keen follower of all events around the world, he is also keen on maintaining fitness with biking, long walks and yoga. He has an interest in a wide variety of topics like astronomy, economics and current affairs. His other hobbies include listening to music and learning languages and he knows more than few European languages Spanish, French and German. A well traveled person , Anand has traveled close to 43 counties adding three new countries , Bulgaria, Brazil and Estnia in 2004
Truly, the NIIT-Brand Ambassador, Anand holds a Bacherlor’s degree in Commerce but a ‘Doctorate’ in Chess!