Vishwanathan Anand, a perfect gentleman and a true champion
From calm and composed Steve Waugh to tempestuous John McEnroe, we have witnessed, worshipped even imitated our champions in their unique avatars. Rarely, have we come across a perfect gentleman ruling the world and its a mere shock as he hardly receives any adulation compared to some of his countrymen engaged in a certain other glamorous sport. The gentleman being referred above is none other than Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand who has recently extended his reign as the ‘undisputed chess champion’ of the world till 2012, by overcoming stiff resistance from Bulgarian world number 2, Vesselin Topalov. No doubt Anand is a name we have all heard or read from time to time in the newspaper, but with the amount of limelight hogged by cricketers in India, we hardly realize the supreme level of this man’s achievements.
Anand’s first foray into the International scene came in 1987, when he became the first Indian to win The World Junior Championship. He soon followed up in 1988, by becoming the country’s first ever Grandmaster. In 1991, he announced his arrival amongst the world’s best finishing, ahead of both Anatoly Karpov and Gary Kasparov in the prestigious Regio Emilia tournament. It was only a matter of time before he was challenging for the world title and in 1995 he took on Gary Kasparov for the world championship in a match played on the World Trade Center in New York. Despite taking the lead after a record eight draws his dream of being world champion would still remain unfulfilled. However for a man of his dedication and temperament, it was only a matter of time and when Anand comprehensively defeated Shirov in 2000, India got her first world chess champion.
Critics however would point out that, Kramnik and Kasparov, two of world’s top players had opted out of FIDE’s world championship. No such shadow could be cast however when Anand finished a clear point above his nearest rivals, Boris Gelfand of Israel and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in the World Chess Championship, 2007. In 2008, he would stamp his claim as the undisputed champion when he demolished the challenge of Vladimir Kramnik. Such was the manner of victory, the Russian legend Kasparov quoted,” In this way it reminded me of my match with Kramnik in London 2000. Like I was then, Kramnik may have been very well prepared for this match, but we never saw it.” Anand also known as the ‘Lightning kid’ for his invincibility in the rapid format of the game acquires the unique distinction of being the first non Russian, since Bobby Fischer to have been awarded the Chess Oscar thrice. However what makes him stand out from both his adversaries as well as from former greats is his humility and unblemished conduct.
No doubt with Anand’s exploits in world chess and with the advent of many young grand masters in the country, chess has started getting its share of attention, however one can understand the underlying sentiment when Anand himself quoted, jokingly, “I could do with a little more attention”.Perhaps till now, Saina Nehwal overcomes the last hurdle to claim the numero uno postion or Dhoni’s men emulate Kapil’s devils, we should both appreciate and whole heartedly celebrate the outstanding feats of this perfect gentleman and true champion.