As he turns 40, V Anand relives his life's journey with MiD DAY

Published: Dec 11, 2009, 07:07 IST | Manisha Mohite

India's chess wizard Viswanathan Anand talks to MiD DAY's Manisha Mohite on his life's journey

India's chess wizard Viswanathan Anand talks to MiD DAY's Manisha Mohite on his life's journey

8 years: Just 10 days after learning chess, I participated in the 1977 Tal Chess Club tournament at Madras. I lost the first three games and my opponent did not turn up for the fourth game, giving me a point. The amount of happiness I felt at that particular moment is difficult to describe and they also gave me a certificate for perseverance — for turning up for all the games despite losing.

14 years: First national level success, winning 9/9 in 1983. That was a good event and I won the first international medal , a bronze one at the 1984 World Sub-junior Chess Championship.

15 years: Becoming the youngest Indian to win an International Master title at the age of 15 in 1984. That was a particularly nice day, a sort of a double delight as I had won the Asian junior title and was also the youngest one to do so.

16 years: Becoming the national chess champion was a very special moment in Mumbai as my brother lived nearby and my parents had also come for the tournament. It was a long evening and we had a nice time with the family.

18 years: Becoming India's first Grandmaster by winning the  Shakti Finance International chess tournament held in Coimbatore. Interestingly, Coimbatore was the place where I earned my IM title and also became a GM and will always stay etched in memory. The first thing we did was visit a temple and then settled for a celebratory dinner.

20 years: International Games Festival, France (Veterans vs Youth tournament). I was second overall, but first in the youth category. I have enjoyed the games of Mikhail Tal and practically every chess player adores this magician of chess so it was a special moment beating Tal and Boris Spassky, two world champions.

23 years: Winning the toughest ever event — a Category 18 — Reggio Emelia in 1992. That was my first major achievement and one of the most special moments of my career as it was the first time that I had finished ahead of the legendary Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov and it featured almost all the top players at that time. What is also memorable is that I flew straight to Calcutta after that and got such a grand reception and a procession right from the airport. This was Calcutta at its welcoming best and I treasure that procession with a police convoy.

27 years: Getting married to Aruna. The memory that flashes to my mind is of the immense fatigue we both felt after the ceremonies. It was so hectic and we had to immediately fly off to Europe. We were like zombies, trying to catch up on sleep at every opportunity. I remember a few European chess friends jocularly sent me a card saying now that I was married, I should be ready to lose 50 points but what happened was exactly the opposite. I won the Dortmund tournament jointly with Kramnik.

29 years: Winning the chess Oscar in 1998. I remember this for the ceremony. I was sitting next to Boris Spassky and there was a magician performing. He came and shook hands with us much to our delight. We were so engrossed that only after the event was over did we realise that he had taken away our watches (he returned them). If only we could make the opponent's pieces disappear like that.. ha!

31 years: FIDE World Chess 2000. Becoming a world champion is every player's dream and this was a very special moment. Winning any title for the first time is always cherished and this one will always stay close to my heart.

38 years: Emerging world champion again in 2007 at Mexico City. I would rate this as the best chess moment of my career, one which gave me immense pride. I had also won the Linares tournament and became World No 1 in 2007.

39 years: Defending the World title against Kramnik in Bonn, Germany. It was a relief as there was always talk that I had not won the championship in the traditional, classical format. It is like a trilogy, winning it first in knock-out style, then in tournament style and finally the classical.

40 years: I still look upon chess as a challenge which I enjoy immensely. Money/recognition is artificial motivation.
It is very important to enjoy the sport thoroughly.

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