Portrait of a World Champion

Viswanathan Anand (11 December 1969)

Viswanathan Anand

Viswanathan Anand was born on 11th December 1969 in Madras (now Chennai), India.

Anand learned to play from his mother when he was six years old. When he reached 14, Anand had already won the Indian National Sub-Junior Championship with a perfect score from nine rounds. He became the youngest Indian to gain the International Master title when he was fifteen. The following year he won the first of three consecutive National Championships. By winning the 1987 FIDE World Junior Championship, aged 17, Anand became the first Asian to win a world chess title. Anand followed that by securing the grandmaster title in 1988. In 1991 Anand won his first major international tournament, when he finished ahead of World Champion Garry Kasparov and former World Champion Anatoly Karpov. For the first time since Bobby Fischer, a non-Russian player had become one of the favourites to become World Champion.

During the 1990s Anand battled with Kasparov and Kramnik for the highest position at the top of FIDE's rating list. His first attempt to win the FIDE championship ended in 1991 when he was defeated by Karpov in the quarter-finals in the FIDE Knockout World Chess Championship. Anand set his sight on the World Title in 1995, when he was ranked number two behind Kasparov, but he succumbed in this PCA Championship with a score of 1 win, 13 draws, and 4 losses. Anand's next title shot came in 1998 against Karpov, who had reclaimed the FIDE title following Kasparov's formation of the PCA. Anand had to emerge victorious in the strongest sequence of knockout matches in chess history to play Karpov, who was directly seeded into the final match. They drew their regular six-game match with two wins each and two draws. However, Karpov won the two quick chess tie-breakers to conclude the match.

Anand made a breakthrough in 2000 by winning the FIDE World Championship - once again featuring knockout matches. Due to the custom of having to beat the preceding champion in a relatively long match, as well as doubts about the validity of knockout matches, most chess fans did not recognise Anand, or any other FIDE champion since Kasparov, as legitimate. Anand made his way to the "generally accepted" list of World Champions with his victory in the 2007 FIDE World Championship. This was a double round-robin tournament which featured most of the best players of the time. In 2008, Kramnik and Anand battled it out for the unified World Champion title (having had separate PCA and FIDE World Champions since Kasparov left FIDE in 1993). They played in Bonn, and Anand eventually emerged victorious with 3 wins, 7 draws and 1 loss. Anand kept his title in 2010, by defeating Bulgarian Veselin Topalov in the 12th and final game of their match. In 2012, Anand played Israeli's Boris Gelfand. After 12 games, they were both tied, but Anand showed his superiority in the rapid tiebreaker round, thus retaining his World Title.

Anand, who was first nicknamed the Lightning Kid in India, is famous for his quick calculating ability. In fact, he has won numerous speed titles. In 1998, he published a collection of his games My Best Games of Chess, which he expanded with more recent games in 2001.

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