For 8 years on trot, beginning July 2000, India’s Viswanathan Anand consistently maintained his FIDE ranking within world’s top 3. He briefly descended from the no.1 position in July 2008 to no. 5 in October 2008 but quickly climbed back to the top 3 once again and stayed there till March 2010. During March-May 2010, Anand was no.4 but was back to within top 3 once again in July 2010 and held on to his superior rankings until January 2012. At this point of time in his chess career, Anand couldn’t arrest his comedown. As of December 2013, Anand was ranked as world no. 9, the lowest placing in his 13-year long career. Last month, Anand lost the tag of the World Chess Champion to Norway’s Magnus Carlsen in the World Chess Championship at Chennai. Until Carlsen defeated him, Anand had been holding the title from 2007 onwards. Earlier, he was also FIDE world champion during 2000-2002.
Taught by his mother, Anand has been playing competitive chess for the last 30 years. As a 14-year old, Anand won India’s National Sub-Junior Championship in 1983-84 and at 15; he became the youngest Indian ever to become the International Master. A year later, he was crowned as India’s new chess champion and four months before he turned 18, Anand won the World Junior Championship at Baguio, Philippines in July-August 1987. He automatically became India’s first Grand Master to scale new heights in world chess.
He won the 1990 Asian Zonal Championship and qualified for Manila Inter-zonal meet later that year, finishing third behind Ivanchuk and Gelfand. This led to his qualifying for Candidate matches. In 1991 Anand beat Alexey Dreev in the first round of Candidate at Chennai but lost in quarterfinals to Anatoly Karpov at Brussels. He shared the top spot with Michael Adams in 1993 at Groningen’s PCA interzonal and in the same year, he was placed 10th in Biel FIDE Interzonal Tournament.
After qualifying for FIDE Candidates matches, Anand beat Oleg Romanishin in 1994 and demolished Michael Adams 5.5-1.5 in the Candidate semifinal at Linares. In 1995, he came face-to-face with Kasparov at New York. The match began with eight consecutive draws, before Anand won the 9th game. But Anand fizzled out later to lose the match 10½–7½. In 1998 a controversial move by FIDE placed reigning champion Karpov directly into the final and the challenger had to win all games to meet the finalist. Anand went through a 30-day grind playing 31 games and played Karpov. He drew the regular match 3-3 but lost the rapid play-off 0-2, allowing Karpov to defend his title.
Anand became FIDE world Chess champion at Tehran in 2000 by beating Alexey Shirov 3½–½ in final but failed to defend his title in 2002, losing to Ivanchuk in semifinal.
Chess players around the world, those days, were scared of the lightning fast Vishy Anand. He won the Corsica title 6 times from 1999-2005; Mainz title 11 times; Eurotel, Fujitsu Giants and the Melody Amber in 2002; Dortmund title in 2004; Leon title in 2005; Corus in 2006; Monaco Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess Championships in 1994, 1997, 2003, 2005 and 2006; Chess Oscars in 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, and 2007; Grenke Rapid championship in 2007; Linares in 2007 and 2008 and Advanced Chess tournaments 3 times.
Anand’s forte was always his speed and he played his early classical games with blitz speed to the amazement of his opponents and onlookers. He is regarded as the greatest rapid player of all time. The Mainz Chess Classic was an annual rapid championship, which was held between 1994 and 2010. Of the 17 finals played at Mainz, Anand won 11; including 9 nine consecutive victories from 2000 to 2008.
The start of 2013 was rather good for Anand as he finished a joint third in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament and won the Grenke Chess Classic trophy. He participated in Zurich Chess Challenge to finish second after beating Vladimir Kramnik in the final and finished third in Alekhine memorial chess tournament at St. Petersburg after drawing with Boris Gelfand. He drew with Magnus Carlsen at Norway Super Tournament but lost to Hikaru Nakamura and suffered an unexpected loss to the Chinese Wang Hao. He finished fourth at Norway and didn’t have a good tournament at Tal Memorial either. And then came the shocker at Chennai, where the World Champion from 2007 to 2013 lost the title to Carlsen.
Anand sulked but took the Chennai loss in his stride. He went to play the London Chess Classic last week. At half-way stage, Anand was in joint lead on seven points, when he beat the English Luke McShane and drew with Andrei Istratescu to reach the quarterfinals. It was curtains for Anand at this stage when he lost to Kramnik. The London Classic was won by the 26-year-old US grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura.