Vishy remains indisputable emperor of chess

India has several world champions, but for the sheer longevity and achievement, it is hard to beat Viswanathan Anand.

updated: December 11, 2008 14:44 IST
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India has world champions in Abhinav Bindra, Pankaj Advani, MC Marykom and the Twenty20 cricket team but for sheer longevity and achievement, it's hard to beat Viswanathan Anand who is indisputably the best in the world.

"I would say the tension is quite high, but on the board you're faced with very, very specific problems and then you somehow just have to deal with them," says Viswanathan Anand, World Chess Champion.

By his own admission Viswanathan Anand's nerves were jangling at the start of the World Chess Championship in Bonn. For the 38-year-old, the title will be the culmination of 6 months of intensive practice for 12 games against Vladimir Kramnik, the other dominant player of this era.

Anand's rise to international fame was meteoric. In 1983, he was playing the sub-junior level as a 14-year-old. Four years later he was India's first junior world champion and just a year after that, at the age of 18, he became India's first Grandmaster.

Now, 20 years later, Anand has won his third world title after 2000 and 2007. He has a world title in the rapid chess format too.

Anand is the only player to have won 5 titles at the prestigious Corus Chess Championships. He has 5 chess oscars given to the best player in the world. He's only one of four players in history to crack the 2800 mark on the World Chess Federation rating list and he was the first recipient of India's highest honour the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. Anand was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2000, the Padma Vibhushan in 2007 and the Padma Shri at the age of 18.

For all Anand's achievements, the man who is called the "fastest brain in the world" would be the first to blush at the description. He's kept such a low profile that one may not know him as the global ambassador for Vidyasagar, formerly the Spastics Society of India, and as one of the richest and best known Indian sportspersons globally.

It's also probably why Vishy is always welcomed home like visiting royalty. He was mobbed after his world title last year, this time they might need a larger airport to accommodate his growing legion of fans.