Wednesday, May 12, 2010


On the eve of tuesday, i was thrilled and excited - the final game of the World Title match between Vishwanathan Anand and Vaselin Topalov was about to start. Scores were levelled at 5.5 - 5.5 . Wanted to follow the game live, but could nt because i was stuck up at office :(. Couldnt follow it up either till the next day.
Then i saw the newspapers the next day morning :) and felt a jolt of pleasure lifting my spirits - "Anand retains world title" flashed on the front page of 'The Hindu'.And ,he won it with black,with the Lasker variation! Hail Anand!
Worst possible start
Before the series began, i felt it would be really difficult for Anand, given his poor show of form , his age , and more importantly the form Topalov was in, and the sort of performances Topalov was showing the matches leading up to title challenge. To make matters worse, he had a 40-hour bus journey through 5 countries to the venue, Sofia - i play a bit of chess myself, so i know how it can exhaust you physically as well as mentally and that you need ample amount of rest to perform at your best level. And if your playing a world title match, i can imagine the amount of pressure and stress it will have on you!

The first match started, with Anand playing black. He adopted the Grunfeld Defence (my favorite , part of my repertoire) , that too the exchange variation (again my fav, popularised by Kasparov in his marathon battle againt Karpov,1984). And Anand,unfortunately mixed up his moves,and lost badly, in under two hours . I know how demoralising it can get!!

If you're a champion, you have to have it in your heart.

Like the true champion that Anand is, he bounced back in the following games , winning the second and fourth matches,with deadly attacks on the opponent's king. [ And personally, i didnt like the behaviour adopted by Topalov - not speaking a word to Anand, or offering a handshake before the game, as is the norm. Topalov resorting to mindgames outside the chess board - either he was over-confident and dismissed Anand, or he was actually scared. Anand,the true gentleman , maintainted courtesy and respect towards his opponent throughtout the series.]

The long hours of battle, extending over 5 hours , again, a style of play adopted by Topalov to drain out his older opponent , seemed to bear fruit - Anand slipping into inferior positions progessively with the games, and i guess he had to stretch his world renowned defensive skills to the limits to stay in the hunt. Games 5,6,7 were drawn. Topalov was not good enough to convert his slight advantages to wins against Anand's defences. In game 8, finally, after these intense battles, Topalov breached Anand's defenses. The world champ seemed drained, and missed some winning continuations in the games that followed. But clearly, Topalov had the edge and the momentum going into the final stages of the match. (oh no, we all know how dangerous Topalov can get!). But with the kind of dynamic defence which Anand displayed in these matches, the probability of Topalov breaching it was low.

World Champion 2010

Game 12. The showdown . Experts predicted a hung score,and that it ll be down to the tie-breakers (oh yes, we all know how Anand's the best! ). But no, we didnt have to wait that long- Anand won it , fair and square, with a solid display :) (Although the tie-breakers would have been a thrill to follow,and would have taken the imagination of chess fans across the globe to a new level!)

............................................The final handshake...after 56....Qg7

Anand , what a person he is! apart from his skills in chess, his unassuming manners, down- to-earth behavior, his honest and simple personality - who has inspired millions of kids in India to take up chess (I was one of them) - we now have had champs in all categories and age groups - U-10,12,14, 16, junior , senior - Asian as well as World level.Majority do not know this , thanks to media neglect. And I ve had the good fortune to have trained along with some of them. My own friend was an Asian title holder, who is now a grandmaster (S.Arun Prasad, from Salem). I dont think this quantum of achievement at the global level is rivalled by in any other sport in India.

What next

So,now Anand can hold the title for two more years. His meticulous preparation has paid off again (Kramnik was the previous casualty,2008). The next challenger? Might be the Norwegian prodigy, Magnus Carlsen . Till now, Anand has better scores against him,but ,for all you know, Anand's brain cells may wither with age,and Carlsen can be the new King. If Anand holds the title next time also,in his 40s, if not already ,will truely , truely, truely be one of the game's greatest-s.

Congratulations to Anand, Aruna , his seconds and the entire team. Lets all bask in glory!


Vibushan L Narayan said...

congrats to anand and his team! He has indeed brought India great Glory.

Chiju said...

One more Indian for all of to be really proud about! :) Cheers! :) Let him win it next time and become the game's greatest indeed! :)

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