How I made it: Viswanathan Anand, Chess player

first_imgViswanathan AnandGrandmaster Viswanathan Anand, 41, began his journey with chess at the age of six. Lovingly referred as “Vishy”, the undisputed world chess champion was crowned with success at the tender age of 14, when he won the National Sub Juniors Championship in 1983. In 1984, he became the youngest,Viswanathan AnandGrandmaster Viswanathan Anand, 41, began his journey with chess at the age of six. Lovingly referred as “Vishy”, the undisputed world chess champion was crowned with success at the tender age of 14, when he won the National Sub Juniors Championship in 1983. In 1984, he became the youngest Indian to win the International Master title at the age of 15, which was soon followed by the National Chess Champion at 16. Since then, a string of victory ensued with him and he won many more titles. The rest, as we know, is history. A Padma Shree at the age of 18, a Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee at 22 and a Padma Vibhushan at 38, Anand changed the way world looked at India in the field of chess. Dronacharya for many, he has now become a national treasure. Here in his own words, the chess master shares his story with Deepshikha Punj.First encounterI started playing chess when I was only of six. Of course, I was also into a lot of other sports like tennis, table tennis, swimming-everything that we had at my club. This developed my interest in other sports as well, but the needle that pointed chess to me was my ability to grasp the basics of the game. Gradually, I became good at it. Although I did not acquire an expertise at an early age, but I played considerably well. After a couple of years, I got more and more involved with the game and soon realised this is what I should do. It has become an important part of my life now. My passion and love for chess, however, never hindered my education. I did my schooling from Don Bosco, Egmore, Chennai and completed by degree in commerce from Loyola College, Chennai. I kept going to school and then to college. The best part about playing chess was that it never became a reason for stop doing anything else. The game always interested me and I even realised that I could be reasonably good at it, so I just continued playing. I would credit my knowledge on the subject to my mother who taught me to play chess at the first place. My mother and her family were into playing chess and she used to play with her younger brother. so she had some background in chess, but she never went to a club to play chess.The big challengeBefore I won the World Championship in 2008, my competitiveness was constantly questioned. So when I beat Vladamir, I felt a sense of pride. I realised that now nobody could comment that I never won a match or complain about the match formats. After that, I never had to deal with questions at all, whereas before I had to face all such questions. My strategy in all the matches that I have ever played is the same. Before any match, I always think of winning. No matter what record is available, you just want to clinch it. And I also feel that same way. It does not matter whether it is a World Championship or FIDE or something else, I always step out with a pinch of confidence and faith. Of course towards the end of the world championship, I did feel a sense of relief, so am glad that it happened sooner than later.The right pathBeing felicitated with awards such as the Padma Vibhushan and Padma Shri undoubtedly feels humbling. It is always nice to be rewarded. But I do not feel the pressure, just because I have won an award. I am extremely grateful for all the awards given to me but I try not to let it get into my head. It is more important to play well and do what gives you joy. If you are involved in a mundane work and do not feel connected, there are chances you might not be able to perform well. Rewards and accolades are always an added bonus. A sense of responsibility pushes me to work harder and perform better. Be it sports or any other profession, one must remember that a bad result is one thing, but a bad result when you know you didn’t put in your 100 per cent and you could have done it differently, hurts more.A different connectWhen I play chess, I play it for India. I feel Indian but I think the question of your nationality does not really come up that much. When I play my game and hear the national anthem play, of course I feel proud. I am happy that I play chess because I love chess and there are people who enjoy watching it and more importantly they enjoy my game. All of this makes me feel ecstatic. Somewhere at the back of your mind you are aware that you are an Indian but that really does not come up on a day-to-day basis.Admiration featI did not really have an idol. For instance, I used to like John McEnroe a lot, but I did not want to shout like him but perhaps I enjoyed shouting through him. I enjoyed other sports so it was natural for me to admire sportsmen of different faculties. I admire many people, but I don’t necessarily follow them. As far as chess is concerned, I admired players like Bobby Fischer, but again I wanted to create a niche for myself. I always wanted to stand on my own feet and do something on my own rather than following a star.My support systemWhen I got married, my wife Aruna was not interested in chess as such, but she gradually got acquainted to it and started understanding it. She has been my psychological support through all my stumbling blocks. Of course, chess has now become an important part of both of our lives. It has given us fame and many other luxurious perks, but relying solely on just that is not enough. Fame and money flow in with hard work and dedication.Golden rulesI have always learnt not be be complacent. For instance, sometimes, after winning, people get too excited or after losing out, they get depressed. Balance and goal are extremely important to move forward. You need to understand how badly you need to win. Even if you fall, there is always a scope for standing up and correcting yourself. Not just as a player but also as a human being, we must understand the various cycles of life. We should first understand ourselves and then reason out our failures, because failing once in a while only makes us stronger. So don’t worry about loosing too much. Also, never loose focus and forget what you want. It is important to have goals. Playing sports is motivating and measures improvement, so it’s a great way to learn and move ahead. At the end, the only pearls of wisdom I can pass on is that one must not wait for an opportunity to knock at your door but make most of what you have and do most of what you can.advertisementadvertisementlast_img

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