Millennium Post

A true champion of the game

Vishwanathan Anand, or Vishy, as he is endearingly called, has made India proud again by winning the fifth World Championship, beating Israeli GM Boris Gelfand in a tie-breaker. While his feat was more or less expected, given the unusual consistency and class that he has mustered throughout his career, yet each world title game is a huge challenge for the incumbent. And Anand did not have it easy this time. Gelfand gave him enough competition throughout and the results – they arrived at a draw after the 12-game match – prove that Anand had to earn his stripes! He has also expressed his happiness after retaining title in his own, modest way, never failing to remind himself that sporting glory is a matter of that small, proverbial slip between the cup and the lip and can spill out anytime. This constant reminder of the fallibility of his sport must have made Anand the champion that he is.

But that does not take anything away from the five time world champion who has faced a volley of questions about the diminishing age of chess champions and at 42, is already being considered a veteran of the sport. But his Wednesday feat may still prove that Anand is yet to age and weather out and could well give his younger rivals, like Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, both in their twenties, enough sweat and grime if they face him for a title.

What also makes Anand a true chess great is that he has won the world title in all the existing formats: he beat Alexei Shirov in the final of the Fide knockout format to become world champion in 2000-2001, he won the title in the tournament format in Mexico in 2007, then he checkmated both Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov in the matchplay format in 2005 and 2008 respectively. And now he has won a game on a tiebreaker. One would really expect a little more understanding from India's sporting fraternity and sports enthusiasts about Anand's feat. If Sachin Tendulkar's achievements could be celebrated even without any meaningful contribution to the game every now and then, Anand should get something equally rewarding if not more. Chess may be an individual mind-game, but it takes nothing away from a true champion of the sport. 
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