Viswanathan Anand, (In Tamil: விசுவநாதன் ஆனந்த்; Anand born 11 December 1969) is an Indian chess Grandmaster and the current World Chess Champion.
Anand held the FIDE World Chess Championship from the year 2000 to 2002, at a time when the world title was split. He became the undisputed World Champion in 2007 and defended his title against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008. With this win, he became the first player in chess history to have won the World Championship in three different formats: Knockout, Tournament, and Match. He then successfully defended his title in the World Chess Championship 2010 against Veselin Topalov, the winner of a challenger match against Gata Kamsky in February 2009. As the reigning champion, he will face the winner of the Candidates Tournament for the World Chess Championship 2012.
Anand is one of five players in history to break the 2800 mark on the FIDE rating list, and in April 2007 at the age of 37, he became the oldest person to become world number-one for the first time. He was at the top of the world rankings five out of six times, from April 2007 to July 2008, holding the number-one ranking for a total of 15 months. In October 2008, he dropped out of the world top three ranking for the first time since July 1996.
In 2008, he was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, making him the first sportsperson to receive the award in Indian history. He was also the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1991–92, India’s highest sporting honor.
World Chess Champion 2010
Prior to the World Chess Championship 2010, Mr Anand, who had booked on the flight Frankfurt-Sofia on April 16, was stranded due to the cancellation of all flights following the volcano ash cloud from Eyjafjallajökull. Anand asked for a three day postponement, which the Bulgarian organisers refused on April 19. Anand eventually reached Sofia on April 20, after an exhausting 40-hour road journey. Consequently, the first game was delayed by one day.
The match consisted of 12 games. After 11 games the score was tied at 5½-5½. Anand won game 12 on the Black side of a Queen’s Gambit Declined to win the match and retain the World Championship. In game 12, after Topalov’s questionable 31. exf5, Anand was able to achieve a strong attack against Topalov’s relatively exposed king. Topalov subsequently resigned.
Anand’s rise in the Indian chess world was meteoric. National level success came early for him when he won the National Sub-Junior Chess Championship with a score of 9/9 in 1983 at the age of fourteen. He became the youngest Indian to win the International Master title at the age of fifteen, in 1984. At the age of sixteen he became the national chess champion and won that title two more times. He played games at blitz speed. In 1987, he became the first Indian to win the World Junior Chess Championship. In 1988, at the age of eighteen, he became India’s first Grandmaster by winning Shakti Finance International chess tournament held in Coimbatore, India. He was awarded Padma Shri at the age of 18.
“Vishy”, as he is sometimes called by his friends, burst upon the upper echelons of the chess scene in the early 1990s, winning such tournaments as Reggio Emilia 1991 (ahead of Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov). Playing at such a high level did not slow him down, and he continued to play games at blitz speed.
In the World Chess Championship 1993 cycle Anand qualified for his first Candidates Tournament, winning his first match but narrowly losing his quarter-final match to Anatoly Karpov.
In 1994–95 Anand and Gata Kamsky dominated the qualifying cycles for the rival FIDE and PCA world championships. In the FIDE cycle (FIDE World Chess Championship 1996), Anand lost his quarter-final match to Kamsky after leading early. Kamsky went on to lose the 1996 FIDE championship match against Karpov.
In the 1995 PCA cycle, Anand won matches against Oleg Romanishin and Michael Adams without a loss, then avenged his FIDE loss by defeating Gata Kamsky in the Candidates final. In 1995, he played the PCA World Chess Championship 1995 against Kasparov in New York City’s World Trade Center. After an opening run of eight draws (a record for the opening of a world championship match), Anand won game nine with a powerful exchange sacrifice, but then lost four of the next five. He lost the match 10½–7½.
In the 1998 FIDE cycle, the reigning champion Karpov was granted direct seeding by FIDE into the final against the winner of the seven-round single elimination Candidates tournament. The psychological and physical advantage gained by Karpov from this decision caused significant controversy, leading to the withdrawal of future World Champion Vladimir Kramnik from the candidates tournament. Viswanthan Anand won the candidates tournament, defeating Michael Adams in the final, and immediately faced a well-rested Karpov for the championship. Although the match was drawn 3-3, the rapid playoff was won 2-0 by Karpov, allowing him to defend his FIDE chess championship.