Ravi Teja Mandapaka, Editor, ScoopLense
Well, India does have many such legends, who’ve played the sport using their mind yet failing to taste stardom back home. One such forgotten legend is the undisputed World champion of the “64 squares”. Yes, I’m talking about a sportsman who uses his mind, just his mind, his humbleness and loyalty, showing what great an human being he is.
Born on 16th December, 1969 in Chennai, Anand Vishwanathan, famously known as Vishy, not only raised the level of game in India, but also went on to become one of the finest players the game has ever produced. Yes, he is the best sporting mind the nation has as chess in is itself another sport, though it is confined to just 64 squares. Famously known for his calculation and speed, Anand went on to become one of the finest in the Rapid and Blitz formats of the game.
Every second he employs, his brain is crucial as a single lapse in concentration might completely alter the entire result of the game. Yet, the way he conducts himself brilliantly in times of both ecstasy and agony in and out of the game defines his true character. Described by Czech Lubomir Kavalek as the most versatile world champion ever, Anand went on to win the World championship five times and is the undisputed king of chess. Needless to say, his chess Oscars have placed him amongst the best the game has ever witnessed.
Awards and recognition followed as his game progressed with age and his precision proved too good for his opponents. From becoming the 1st Indian Sportsman to have been awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award to the Padma Vibhushan, the nation’s second civilian award, Anand was also conferred the British Chess Federation’s ‘Book of the year’ award for his book ‘My Best Games of Chess’.
Anand is the first player to win three chess Super Tournaments, the Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands, the annual tournament in Linares, Spain, and in Dortmund, Germany. Anand was also the only sportsperson invited for a dinner meeting hosted for US President Barack Obama by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: a memory Sachin Tendulkar of India cannot wistfully recall when he’s quit the playing field (not being harsh on Sachin here). Amidst such glory, he has had his own share of insults. He was once humiliated by the University of Hyderabad for denying an honorary doctorate as confusion rose over his citizenship. When approached again with an apology from the ministry, he declined to accept.
As Bobby Fischer famously quotes, “Chess is a matter of delicate judgement, knowing when to punch and how to duck”, Anand Vishwanathan is one of those rare gifted sporting minds the nation and the world have ever seen.