Today is Vishwanathan Anand’s 50th birthday! The best ever chess player from India and one of the world’s All Time Best Chess players was born in Chennai (erstwhile Madras) on 11th December 1969.
He became India’s first Chess Grand Master in 1987 and since then he continues to be India’s highest rated player! He is also a 5 time World Chess Champion!
I started playing chess in December 1989 or so and like every chess player in India, Vishy Anand was my icon. I remember getting Chess Mate magazine which used to be published from Chennai. This was a time when internet didn’t exist and chess books were not readily available in India. So Chess Mate magazine was a treasure and most useful resource for chess enthusiasts – apart from games, it also used to have all India Tournament calendar at the back.
I remember seeing a huge pile of old Chess Mate magazines at my Chess coach’s place. One of the cover was this. It was when Vishy Anand became World Junior Chess Champion (and soon completed GM norms). The price of Rs. 5 of this bi-monthly was considerably high at that time considering that there were very few Chess players who would spend money on such things and Chess was not a career choice then. To put it in perspective, Business World and Illustrated Weekly prices were also Rs. 5, even though they had wide circulation and advertisements.
I always feel that Vishy Anand is the best Sports person India has ever produced till date – above, much above Sachin Tendulkar. In fact I had written a blog wishing that Vishy Anand should get Bharat Ratna before Sachin. It was on my old blog and was imported to this and hence looks unstructured, messy.
Sachin was a superstar of a popular sport. Vishy Anand made the sport popular in India. Today India has 64 Chess Grand Masters. In 1987, Vishy was the first. Till 2000 India had only 4. This means the 60 GMs after 2000, and many International Masters and other top players in India grew up and drew inspiration from Vishy. His contribution to Chess in India is far greater (and qualitatively better) than Sachin’s contribution to Cricket in India. As a human being, Vishy is better. He has not publicly worshiped fake God/Guru such as Sathya Sai Baba. (and I’ll leave it at that).
I had written a blog, 10 years ago, when Vishy turned 40.
Today, at 50, Vishy is still going strong and moreover, seems keen to continue. He is enjoying this phase and is also working on his book!
All the best to Vishy and may he continue playing chess similar to Karpov and Korchnoi who played top chess till their 70’s!
Here are a couple of recent interviews of Vishy…
Today Vishy Anand’s book officially released on Amazon and I’ve just placed order. Eagerly looking forward to reading it!