Master of the Chessboard
One of the most versatile champions, the strongest rapid chess player of his generation and the undisputed world champion from 2007 to 2013, India’s first Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand has earned his place amongst the greatest chess players in the history of the game. An unassuming person with a reputation for refraining from psychological ploys and instead focussing on his game, “Vishy” as he is sometimes called by his friends, became India’s first Grandmaster at the age of just 18 years. Since then, there is no looking back. Whether it be classical, rapid or blitz championship, his success story has inspired many in India to take up chess as a career.
Anand won the World Chess Championship for the first time in 2000 beating Alexei Shirov after several near misses. When the rival classical and FIDE championships unified in 2007, Anand became the world champion after the tournament in Mexico city beating Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand. He successfully defended his title in World Championship thrice in 2008, 2010 and 2012.
“I always considered him to be a colossal talent, one of the greatest in the whole history of chess” said Kramnik about Anand in an interview in 2011. Anand, who first earned the nickname of the “Lightning Kid” in India, is known for quick tactical calculations which he has displayed by winning numerous “speed chess” titles. He is also the winner of the inaugural Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award which is India’s highest sporting honour. He is the first sportsperson to receive Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award. At the end of the day, Anand’s career record places him ahead of all his contemporaries and on the short list of the greatest of world champions among names like Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Fischer, Karpov and Kasparov.