Vishwanathan Anand likely to regain throne
Though the competition with the new players is tough, Anand playing at the next Chess Olympiad will strengthen the Indian team's chances of winning the medal, writes Shashwat Sajal.
Every sports person has to go through ups and downs during their professional career. When he or she is at the peak of the career, fans and critics heap praises upon them, but a few failures drive the very same fan and critic to strike them off the arena. Their abilities get questioned and they are asked to retire. But those who come back and shut everyone's mouth with their performance, get their name inscribed in history and are eventually called legends.
Chess maestro Viswanathan Anand more or less has faced the same situation. Once a world number one player, Anand was going through some rough patches of his professional career. He already had lost two consecutive world titles in 2013 and 2014 to Magnus Carlsen, a Norwegian Chess prodigy who is known for his positional mastery and endgame prowess and is the current world number one player.
On his 48th birthday, Anand suffered a loss in London Chess Classic. He could not score a single win in that tournament and was placed at the bottom of the leaderboard. He somehow managed six draws but lost three games. Critics were pulling him down and advising him to retire. They blamed Anand's age for his inconsistent performance. Nevertheless, it was true to some extent. Like every other game, Chess players too, require physical fitness so that they can concentrate for long hours in the game.
One of the international masters had even said that he should have to retire in 2014 when he lost world title to Carlsen. The Indian Grandmaster was going through a dry phase as he had not won a world title since 2012, and all the retirement talks were pushing him to edges.
But, once called the 'Lightning Kid', he stroke back. Last December, he not only won the World Rapid Chess Championship title at Riyadh but the bronze medal at the World Blitz Championship as well. Though he was not the favourite player at the championship and was 12th seeded, he passed the test with flying colours. Even though he was himself not convinced enough to play in the championship. But something great happened, he lost only one while playing 38 games! Enroute, he defeated contemporary world's best player Carlsen in the 9th round. He then defeated Russia's Vladimir Fedoseev 2-0 in a two-game tie-break, which landed with him the top prize.
At the age of 48, winning a world title was an exceptional feat to achieve for Anand. The success came at a much needed time and is supposed to work as a mental booster for Anand. It will also keep his critics' mouth shut for a while. Once a rival, legendary Russian chess genius Garry Kasparov adviced him to dedicate the title to those who criticised him. Anand had come down below 20 in Rapid Chess World ranking, but now the victory has pushed him up to the fifth place. His ranking has improved in Blitz chess as well. It seems like he is back from the dead and has rejuvenated himself. He has found his rhythm back.
Anand has said that the win has motivated him for more titles. He has stopped giving heed to critics. The only thing, which matters to him is his love for playing chess. Grandmaster Anand is likely to play at the 43rd Chess Olympiad, which will be held in Georgia, the US in September this year. He has also made his debut in the second edition of Pro Chess League, the world's first online chess league. He is playing for Mumbai Movers team, placed second in the tournament.
Though the competition with the new players is tough, fans are expecting that he might win more world championships. Him playing at next Chess Olympiad will strengthen the Indian team's chances of winning the medal. Conventionally polite and subtle, Anand is fierce, quick and creative on the chessboard. He still has some fire and tactics left which might make him number one again.