Who is Viswanathan Anand?
Five time winner of the World Chess Championship, Indian chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand dominated the world of chess for six years from 2007 to 2013. The former World Chess Champion is among the only two persons to have won the Classical, Rapid, and Blitz world championships and the only one to have won the world championship playing in Match, Tournament and Knockout formats. Anand was first introduced to chess by his mother who was a big chess aficionado. She was a good player but was never associated with any club. The young boy inherited his mother’s love for chess and started playing the game as a six year old. His mother’s motivation and encouragement went a long way in shaping him up into the great player he eventually became. He turned professional early on and became the National Sub-Junior Chess Champion at the age of 14. More success followed when at the age of 15 he won the title of International Master and became the youngest Indian to do so. At the age of 18, Anand became India’s first Grandmaster. He won his first World Championship in 2000; he would win the championship four more times. He is known to be an unassuming and simple person who is liked by all, including his former rivals.
Childhood & Early Life
Anand was born in Tamil Nadu into a Brahmin family. His father, Viswanathan Iyer worked with the Southern Railways while his mother Susheela was a housewife. Anand is the youngest of three siblings.
His mother was a big fan of chess and taught him to play the game when he was just five or six years old. She encouraged and motivated him a lot and this build the foundation for his future career as a chess player.
In 1983 he won the National Sub-Junior Chess Championship at the age of 14. By the time he was 16 he had become the national chess champion.
He won the World Junior Chess Championship in 1987 and became the first Indian to do so. He became India’s first Grandmaster in 1988 when he was just 18.
He completed his schooling from Don Bosco Matriculation Higher Secondary School before enrolling at the Loyola College, Chennai.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
He won the Reggio Emilia tournament in 1991. It is Italy’s most renowned tournament, and Anand at just 22 won it ahead of the greats like Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov.
He tried to secure a place in the World Chess Championship 1993 where he qualified for his first Candidates Tournament. He, however, lost the quarter final match to Karpov.
In the PCA World Chess Championship 1995 he won the matches against Oleg Romanishin, Michael Adams and Gata Kamsky in the Candidates final. He played the finals against Garry Kasparov which he ultimately lost to the Russian legend.
Again in 1998 Anand cleared the candidates round by defeating Michael Adams in the final and faced the reigning champion Karpov in the World Chess Championship finals. Karpov had a psychological advantage over Anand and easily defended his title.
The year 2000 was a good one for Anand. He played in the World Chess Championship and won his first title after several years of near-hits. He beat Alexei Shirov to clinch the World Chess Championship.
He looked forward to defend his title in 2002 though he lost in the semifinals to Russia’s Vassily Ivanchuk.
It would be many years before Anand would win the World Championship again. Playing at the championship in Mexico City in 2007, he won the double round-robin tournament to emerge as the only undefeated player in the tournament and won the championship.
Playing in the 2008 World Championship, he successfully defended his title against Kramnik, thus earning high praise from the legendary Garry Kasparov.
In the World Chess Championship 2010, he was challenged by Veselin Topalov for the title of the World Chess Champion. In spite of certain disruptions in the schedule, Anand went on to win the match and defend his title.
He faced Boris Gelfand, the winner of the 2011 Candidates Matches in the finals of the World Chess Championship 2012. During the finals, Anand won the last match in only 17 moves and retained his title.
In 2013 the defending champion Anand faced 22 year old Magnus Carlsen who was the winner of the 2013 Candidates Tournament. Carlsen defeated Anand to become the new World Chess Champion.
Awards & Achievements
Anand is considered one of the best contemporary chess players in the world, especially renowned for his versatility. He is a five time winner of the World Chess Championship and was the undisputed World No.1 from 2007 to 2013.
He is the proud recipient of several prestigious awards. He won the first ever Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award—India’s highest sporting honour—in 1991-92.
In 2007 he was presented with the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award for his achievements in chess. He was the first ever sportsperson in India to receive this award.
Personal Life & Legacy
He is married to Aruna and has one son. He is a very simple and unassuming person who keeps away from controversies and focuses only on his game. He is well respected and liked even by his former chess rivals.