World title an icing on the cake as Anand bids to be an all-time great (Profile)

October 30th, 2008 - 2:01 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 30 (IANS) Widely considered as the greatest Indian sportsman, Viswanathan Anand born on Dec 11, 1969, has been among the game’s elite for more than a decade and a half. The latest world title comes an icing on the cake for the world’s chess player, who can lay claim to be one of the all-time greats in the sport.Not till recently, when he fell to No. 5 as he prepared for his match against Vladimir Kramnik, Anand was always in the top-3 of the world for more than 10 years.

The latest win by 6.5-4.5 with one game to spare in the 12-game final in Bonn, Anand should return to the top spot in rankings once again.

The win adds lustre to his five chess Oscars. Anand has won the Chess Oscar “an award given by polling votes from the global chess fraternity, including players and best writers across the world“, a record five times with the wins coming in 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2007. His five Oscars make him the best ever, with Kasparov having won it only four times and Bobby Fischer won three.

Anand, who learnt the game from his mother, Susila Viswanathan, at the tender of age, learnt the nuances while following the game on chess in Manila, Philippines, where his father, R. Viswanathan, a senior railway officer, was posted for some years in the early 1980s.

Anand’s early success in the sport came in 1983, when at the age of 14, he stunned the field with a nine out of nine perfect score while winning the National Sub-Junior Chess Championship.

A year later he became the youngest Indian to win the International Master’s Title at the age of fifteen in 1984.

By 16, he was the National Champion and he won it twice more and then concentrated on becoming a champion at higher international levels.

Playing his moves at great speed, he earned the nickname of ‘Lightning Kid’ and also ‘Tiger from Madras’ and in 1987, he returned to Manila, to win to become the first Indian to win the World Junior Chess Championship.

In 1988, at 18, he earned three Grandmaster norms in a span of less than 12 months and in December, he became India’s first Grandmaster.

Then followed Anand’s spectacular rise in world chess.

His first big moment came at the Reggio Emilia tournament in 1991 where he finished ahead of Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov and signaled is arrival at the world stage.

In 1991, Anand lost in a tie-breaker to Anatoly Karpov in the quarter finals of the FIDE Knockout World Chess Championship.

As the world of chess split, Anand also played in the Kasparov promoted Professional Chess Association and reached the final, where he lost to Kasparov in New York City’s World Trade Centre. After eight draws, which was a record for the opening of a world championship match, Anand broke through with a win in ninth game.

But then the more experienced Kasparov hit back and won four of the next five game and went on to win the match 10.5 - 7.5.

In 2000, with Kasparov and Kramnik staying Anand’s win at the FIDE World Championships in New Delhi and Tehran did not impress the chess fraternity, which still considered the classical Match-play as the real world title.

But on the tournament circuit, Anand continued his domination in various forms, winning Advanced Chess tournaments in Leon, Spain, the Chess Classic of Mainz, where he won the title 11 times.

His five successes at Wijk Aan Zee have been a record and he has also won in Dortmund and Linares.

In 2007, he won the Linares-Morelia with the world’s top players in attendance, though Kasparov had retired by then. The tournament was played to crown the undisputed world champion and Anand was finally one.

Then with critics still claiming Anand had not won a title in Matchplay, he came up against Kramnik, who had dethroned Kasparov.

Over the pats fortnight, Anand decimated Kramnik and went three-up in first six games, before Kramnik began his fight. The Russian challenger won the tenth game, but that only narrowed the deficit to two points before the Indian drew the 11th game and won 6.5-4.5 to retain his world title.

He is now the only player to have won the world title in three formats; the 128-player FIDE Championship in 2000, the closed tournament format in Linares-Morelia in 2007 and now the Matchplay against Kramnik.

In October 2003, FIDE, organised a rapid time control tournament in Cap d’Agde and called it as the World Rapid Chess Championship. Each player had 25 minutes at the start of the game, with an additional 10 seconds after each move. Anand won this event ahead of ten of the other top 12 players in the world with Kasparov being the only missing player.

Apart from five Oscars, his other awards include the Arjuna award for Outstanding Indian Sportsman in Chess in 1985; the Padma Shri, National Citizens Award and Soviet Land Nehru Award in 1987; the inaugural Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India’s highest sporting honour in the year 1991-1992. His book, “My Best Games of Chess”, also won the British Chess Federation ‘Book of the Year’ Award in 1998.

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