Vishwanathan Anand ("Vishy" to his fans) was the 15th undisputed World Champion, reigning from 2007 until 2013. He was also FIDE World Champion from 2000-2002. Anand was born in 1969 in Mayiladuthurai, a small town in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, but grew up in Chennai. His mother taught him to play chess, aged six.
As an Indian and an Asian chess player, he blazed a trail with a number of firsts, including in 1984 becoming the youngest Indian to earn the title of IM (aged 14), becoming the youngest ever Indian Champion at 16, becoming in 1987 the first Indian to win the World Junior Championship and India’s first grandmaster, and becoming India’s (and Asia’s) first World Champion. He was also the first World Champion since Robert James Fischer and the second since Max Euwe who did not originate from Russia or eastern Europe. Moreover, he was the first and only player to have won the putative world championship via knockout tournament, round robin tournament and traditional match play.
<Youth and Junior>: Anand’s first serious impact in Indian chess was as a 14 year old, winning the 1983-84 National Sub-Junior Championship with a perfect score of 9/9. From 1983 until 1986, he was the National Junior (under 19) Champion and in 1984 and again in 1985 he won Lloyd’s Bank Junior championship. Also in 1984 and again in 1985, Anand won the Asian Junior (under 19) Championships, the youngest to achieve this distinction. Anand capped his junior career by winning the 1987 World Junior Chess Championship.
<National>: He won the Indian National Championships in 1986, 1987 and 1988.
<Continental>: In 1986, he won the Arab-Asian International Chess Championship. In 1989, he won the 2nd Asian Active Chess Championship held in Hong Kong. In 1990 he won the Asian Open Chess Championship in Manila.
<World>: Anand’s first tilt at the World Championship cycle took place during the last of the traditional FIDE cycles that had been established after World War II, albeit a cycle cut short at the final by Kasparov’s split from FIDE in 1993. Anand kicked off his world championship campaign when he won the gold medal at the 1990 Asian Zonal Championship, qualifying for the Manila Interzonal later that year. He came third at that Interzonal, half a point behind co-leaders Vassily Ivanchuk and Boris Gelfand, thereby qualifying for the Candidates Matches. In 1991, he defeated Alexey Dreev in Chennai in the first round of Candidates matches, but lost to Anatoly Karpov in Brussels in the quarter finals.
In 1993, Anand came =1st with Michael Adams at the PCA Interzonal tournament in Groningen, the strongest Swiss tournament played until that time. Also in 1993, he contested the Biel FIDE Interzonal Tournament, coming 10th in a tightly fought contest, thereby qualifying for the FIDE Candidates cycle. In the PCA Candidates, he defeated Oleg Romanishin 5-2 in a best of 8 match held in New York in 1994, then followed up shortly afterwards with a 5.5-1.5 demolition of Adams at Linares in the Candidates semi-final. In Las Palmas in 1995, he defeated Gata Kamsky in the final for the right to meet Garry Kasparov. In 1995, he met Kasparov at the World Trade Center in New York to play the match. After an opening run of eight draws, Anand won game nine but lost four of the next five to eventually concede the match 10½–7½. Conversely, in the concurrent FIDE cycle, Anand lost his quarter-final match to Kamsky, who went on to lose the 1996 FIDE championship match against Karpov.
In 1997, Anand won the knock-out matches at Groningen for an opportunity to challenge FIDE World Champion Karpov, defeating Predrag Nikolic 2-0, Alexander Khalifman 3.5-2.5 (in the rapid and blitz tiebreak), Zoltan Almasi 2-0, Alexey Shirov 1.5-0.5, Boris Gelfand 1.5-0.5, and Adams 5-4 in a hard fought sudden death tiebreaker. In the 1998 FIDE cycle, FIDE controversially seeded the reigning champion Karpov directly into the final against the winner of the seven-round single elimination Candidates tournament. Despite coming through an extremely arduous campaign of 31 games in 30 days, Anand was able to draw the regular match 3-3, forcing a rapid playoff. However, the rapid playoff was won 2-0 by Karpov, allowing him to defend his FIDE championship.
In 2000, he beat Alexey Shirov 3½–½ in the final match held at Tehran to become the FIDE World Chess Champion, after defeating Viktor Bologan, Smbat Gariginovich Lputian, Bartlomiej Macieja, Khalifman, and Adams in the preliminary rounds. He failed to defend the title in 2002, losing in the semifinals to Ivanchuk after defeating Olivier Touzane, Peter Heine Nielsen, Vladislav Tkachiev, Dreev, and Shirov in the earlier rounds. Anand did not compete in the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2004), but tied for second with Peter Svidler in the FIDE World Championship Tournament (2005) at San Luis in Mexico with 8½ points out of 14 games, 1½ points behind the winner, Veselin Topalov.
On the basis of his results at San Luis, Anand was seeded directly into the double round-robin FIDE World Championship Tournament (2007) in Mexico City, which he won with a score of 9/14 points, a full point ahead of joint second place finishers, Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand, thereby succeeding Kramnik as the title holder of the unified World Championship. In Bonn in October 2008, he successfully retained his crown when he won the twelve-game Anand - Kramnik World Championship Match (2008) by 6.5-4.5 (+3 -1 =7). The following year, he successfully defended his title in the Anand - Topalov World Chess Championship (2010) by 6.5-5.5 after winning the 12th and final classical game scheduled for the match. In May 2012, he faced the winner of the World Championship Candidates (2011), Boris Gelfand, to again successfully defend his title, winning the Anand - Gelfand World Chess Championship (2012) 2.5-1.5 (+1 =3) in the rapid game tiebreaker after drawing the classical games 6-6 (+1 -1 =10).
As a result of Magnus Carlsen winning the World Championship Candidates (2013), the Anand - Carlsen World Championship (2013) was played in November 2013. The first four games were drawn before Carlsen won the fifth and sixth games. The seventh and eighth games were drawn, with Carlsen then winning the ninth game and drawing the tenth and last game to win the crown from Anand. Final score was 6.5-3.5 (+3 =7) in Carlsen's favor.
Rematch with Carlsen 2014
Anand's loss in the 2013 World Championship match with Carlsen did, however, qualify him to play in the World Chess Championship Candidates (2014), which he won with a round to spare. He therefore won the right to challenge Carlsen in a rematch, the Carlsen - Anand World Championship (2014), which commenced on 8 November 2014 in Sochi, in Russia and finished on 23 November.
The first game of the match was a fighting draw with Anand playing a queen pawn's opening and Carlsen successfully defending a Grunfeld. Carlsen drew first blood in game two playing the White side of a quiet Ruy Lopez. After the first rest day, Anand struck back strongly playing the White side of a Queen's Gambit Declined (D37), and overcame Carlsen before the first time control. In game 4, Anand played the Sicilian, but Carlsen steered the opening into a quiet positional struggle that ended in a draw. Game 5 was a Queen's Indian Defence which also ended in a draw. Game 6 may have been the turning point in the match. Playing Black, Anand missed a simple tactical stroke that would have given him a very strong, if not winning position. After missing this continuation, Anand's game weakened and Carlsen brought home the point to take the lead in the match for the second time.
Anand defended Game 7 with another Berlin Defence but eventually encountered difficulties and surrendered a piece for two pawns. However, his defence kept Carlsen at bay for 122 moves before the game was finally drawn due to insufficient mating material on the board. Game 8 in the match was another QGD, with Anand playing White. Carlsen introduced an innovation from his home preparation that guaranteed him a relatively easy draw, forcing a mass exchange of pieces that left the position easily drawn. After the fourth rest day, play resumed with Anand employing a Berlin Defence to Carlsen's Ruy Lopez. The game soon finished through a draw by repetition, with Carlsen content to maintain his one-point lead. In Game 10, Anand again faced Carlsen defending a Grunfeld, albeit not as convincingly as in Game 1. Anand had a long initiative but failed to secure the win, with Carlsen exhausting the opportunities against him to force the draw. Game 11 was another Berlin Defence by Anand which turned into a complex and hard fought middle game following an innovation by him on the queenside, which he followed up with an exchange sacrifice. Anand was unable to make sufficient inroads into Carlsen's position, and after a series of trades that increased Carlsen's material advantage, Anand resigned the game and the match.
Match result: Anand lost by 4.5-6.5 (+1 -3 =7).
World Championship Cycle 2016
As the loser of his world title challenge to Carlsen in 2014, Anand automatically qualifies for the Candidates Tournament of 2016.
Anand is the only player to have won the super tournament at Wijk aan Zee (Corus from 1989-2010) five times. He is the first player to have achieved victories in each of the three big chess supertournaments: Corus/Wijk aan Zee (1989, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2006), Linares (1998, 2007, 2008), Dortmund (1996, 2000, 2004).
One of Anand’s earliest serious successes in international tournaments that brought him to international attention include his tie for first place in the Sakthi Finance International Grandmasters Chess Tournament in 1987, enabling him to win his third GM norm, and thereby becoming the youngest Grandmaster in the world at that time. In 1989, he competed in the 4th International Games Festival in France, placing 2nd overall in the Veterans vs. Youth Tournament, although he was 1st in the Youth category. During that event he beat former World Champions, Mikhail Tal and Boris Spassky in their individual encounters. In 1990, he won the 1990 Manchester Chess Festival and was =1st in the 1990 Triveni Super Grandmasters Tournament in Delhi. In 1992, Anand took out 1st in the category 18 Reggio Emilia Chess Tournament ahead of Kasparov and Karpov in the strongest tournament ever held until this time. Also in he won the 1992 Goodrich Open International Tournament in Kolkata and won the category 18 Alekhine Memorial tournament in Moscow ahead of Karpov. This raised his rating to 2700, and was only the 8th person to reach that mark at that time. In 1994, he won the PCA Grand Prix in Moscow ahead of Kasparov
Major successes followed rapidly in 1996, when he finished 2nd at the Las Palmas super tournament and at the Magistral Tournament in Leon. There followed, in 1997, wins in the category 19 tournament in Dos Hermanes, the Invesbanka Chess tournament in Belgrade, the Credit Suisse Classic Tournament in Biel, and 2nd place in Dortmund. In 1998 he won the category 21 (average 2752) Linares tournament, as well as at Madrid and at the Fontys-Tilburg International Chess Tournament. In 1999, he won again at Wijk aan Zee. In 2000, he was runner up at Linares, won at Leon (beating Shirov 1½:½) and at Dortmund and also at the 2000 FIDE World Cup in Shenyeng, defeating Evgeny Bareev 1.5 - 0.5 in the final to win. He successfully defended his World Cup title in 2002 in Hyderabad. In 2001, Anand finished 1st in the 2nd Torneo Magistral Tournament in Mexico City, a clear point ahead Nigel Short, Khalifman and Hernandez. In 2002, he won the Eurotel World Chess Trophy in Prague, defeating Jan Timman (2-0), Khalifman (2-0), Sokolov (1.5-0.5), Ivanchuk (2.5-1.5) and Karpov (1.5-0.5) in the final. He won Corus in 2003 and 2004, and took out Dortmund in 2004. In spring of 2006, following a record-extending fifth victory at Corus (2006), Anand became only the fourth player ever to crack the 2800-Elo mark in FIDE ratings, following Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, and Veselin Topalov. A few months after he won the World Championship in 2007, he won the (category 21) Morelia-Linares (2008) outright with 8.5 points, winning at Linares for the third time in his career. Following mediocre (for Anand) results in 2012 which saw him slip out of the top 5 for the first time in nearly 20 years, Anand scored 8/13 to place =3rd behind Carlsen and Aronian at the category 20 Tata Steel (2013) event, and defeated Aronian in round 4 in a game that is becoming known as Anand's Immortal.*
2013 saw Anand breaking his tournament drought by winning outright at the category 19 GRENKE Chess Classic (2013) with 6.5/10, winning in the last round to head off Fabiano Caruana by half a point at the pass. This was his first tournament win since Linares in 2008. A few weeks later he placed 2nd behind Caruana at the Category 21 Zurich Chess Challenge (2013) with 3/6 (+1 -1 =4), losing one game to Caruana and defeating Kramnik in his sole win. In April-May 2013, Anand placed outright 3rd at the category 20 Alekhine Memorial (2013), a half point behind Levon Aronian and Gelfand, with 5/9 (+2 -1 =6), a par for rating performance. Soon afterwards he played in the category 21 Norway Chess Tournament (2013), scoring 5/9, another par for rating effort. His next tournament was the category 22 Tal Memorial (2013) in June 2013 was one of his worst results in many years, finishing near the bottom of the field with 3.5/9 (+1 -3 =5), also causing him to shed 11 rating points and four places in his world ranking.
After he lost his title defense to Carlsen, Anand next's tournament was the category 23 Zurich Chess Challenge (2014) in which he placed 4th with a scored of 2/5. In the lead up to the return match against Carlsen in November 2014, Anand placed a decisive 1st at the category 21 Bilbao Masters (2014), winning with a round to spare in the six game round robin event. Soon after his unsuccessful attempt to regain the crown from Carlsen in November 2014, Anand won the category 22 London Chess Classic (2014) in December 2014 ahead of Kramnik, Giri, Nakamura, Adams and Caruana. A few months later he racked up another major league triumph when he won standard section of the category 22 RR Zurich Chess Challenge (2015) ahead of outright runner-up, Hikaru Nakamura and the supporting cast of Kramnik, Sergey Karjakin, Aronian and Caruana respectively. He was unable to maintain the lead in the follow-up section of the event, the Zurich Chess Challenge (Rapid) (2015), and tied with Nakamura for first place. However, he lost an Armageddon tiebreaker to finish with second prize. Anand continued his strong form at the category 21 Gashimov Memorial (2015) held in April 2015, placing outright second with 6/9 (+3 =6), a point behind the winner Carlsen, and a point ahead of joint third place getters Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana. Two months later, he again displayed his excellent form, finishing an undefeated 2nd behind a resurgent Topalov at the category 22 Norway Chess (2015) event in Stavanger, with 6/9 (+3 =6; TPR 2899) and defeating Carlsen in their individual game.
Anand played board 4 for India in 1984, and top board in 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 2004 and 2006, winning a silver medal on top board in 2004.
In 1992, Anand defeated the then number 3 Vassily Ivanchuk by 5:3 in a match held in Linares. In 1997, he played an exhibition simul against 6 computers at the Aegon Man Vs Computers chess event, winning 4-2. In 1998 at the Siemens Nixdorf Duell (Rapid) event in Frankfurt, he beat the then world open category computer chess champion Fritz 5 (1.5-0.5). In 1999 at the Torneo Magistral de Ajedrez in Leon, he beat Karpov 5:1. He won the 2001 "Duel of the Champions", defeating Kramnik in a rapid game match 6.5-5.5 and in 2009, he defeated Leko 5-3 in the Leko - Anand Rapid Match (2009).
In 1986, he won a team silver medal and a an individual gold medal for board four in the Asian Team Championship. He scored 7/7 in the 1989 Asian Team Chess Championship thereby helping his team to a team bronze as well as winning the top board prize as well as the individual best performance of the tournament. He has played in the Bundesliga, the French and Hungarian Team Championships and the European Club Cup. In 2009, he lead the Rest of the World from board 1 to a decisive 21.5-10.5 victory in the Azerbaijan vs the World (2009) event. He played top board for Baden-Baden in a couple of rounds, helping his team to win the 2013-14 Bundesliga.
Anand has always been renowned for the speed of his calculation and moves. His early classical games were often played at close to blitz speed and this prowess has stood him in good stead to enable him to become perhaps the greatest blitz and rapid player of all time. His prowess at quick-play chess has earned him the nickname "The Lightning Kid."
The Chess Classic at Mainz, essentially the annual open world rapid championship, that had commenced in 1994 and finished up in 2010 had become Anand’s personal property as he won it 11 times out of the 17 times it had been staged, including nine consecutive wins from 2000 through to 2008. In addition, he has won the annual overall Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess Championships in 1994, 1997, 2003, 2005 and 2006, the Amber Rapid 7 times, and he was the only player to win the blind and rapid sections of the Amber tournament in the same year (twice: in 1997 and 2005). Other significant sequences were the six consecutive wins at Corsica from 1999 through 2005, and seven wins at Leon in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, Ciudad de Leon XVIII (2005), XIX Ciudad de Leon (2006), and 2007. Other victories include 1st place at the 1996 Credit Swiss Rapid Chess Grand Prix, in Geneva, where he beat Garry Kasparov in the final, 1st in Wydra in Haifa in 1999 and 2000, 1st in the 2000 Plus GSM World Blitz Chess Cup in Warsaw where he won outright with 17.5 Points in 22 Games, defeating Karpov, Gelfand and Svidler, 1st in the 2000 Fujitsu Siemens Giants Chess (Rapid) in Frankfurt, winning the 2006 Mikhail Tal Memorial Blitz Tournament in Moscow with 23/34, which involved winning 11 out of 17 mini-matches to claim the strongest Blitz tournament in the history of the game, beating his eventual successor to the rapid crown, Aronian, by a 2 point margin.
He is also the 2003 FIDE World Rapid Chess Champion by virtue of winning the Cap D'Agde FRA (2003). On 27 March 2011 in Tashkent in Uzbekistan, Anand defeated Rustam Kasimdzhanov in a rapid play match by 3.5-0.5 and in September 2011, he won the Botvinnik Memorial Rapid (2011) ahead of Aronian, Kramnik and Carlsen with 4.5/6 (+3 =3 -0). In In June 2011, he won the rapid XXIV Magistral de Ajedrez Ciudad de Leon (2011) 4.5-1.5 (+3 -0 =3) and in October 2011, he defeated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov by 2-0 in the final to win the Corsica Masters Knockout (2011).
Anand competed in the rejigged London Classic of 2013, and qualified for the final rounds by placing =1st in the London Chess Classic (Group A) (2013), but then lost to Kramnik in the London Chess Classic (Knockout) (2013). He placed =2nd in the FIDE World Rapid Championship (2014) with 10.5/15, half a point behind the winner, Carlsen, whom he defeated in their individual encounter, and scored 13.5/21 (placing =5th) in the FIDE World Blitz Championship (2014). He came =3rd with 8/10 at the London Chess Classic 2014 Super Rapidplay Open.
Anand has won the Chess Oscar on 6 occasions, in 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2007, and 2008. He has received many other national and international awards including the Arjuna award for Outstanding Indian Sportsman in Chess in 1985, the inaugural Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India's highest sporting honour in the year 1991–1992, the British Chess Federation’s 'Book of the Year' Award in 1998 for his book My Best Games of Chess, the Padma Bhushan in 2000, the Sportstar Millennium Award in 1998 from India's premier Sports magazine for being the sportperson of the millennium. In 2007, he was awarded India's second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, making him the first sportsperson to receive the award in Indian history and received the 'Global Strategist Award' for mastering many formats of World Chess Championships by National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) in 2011.
Anand holds a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Loyola College in Chennai, India. Previously, he attended High School at Don Bosco. He is married to Aruna Anand and lives in Chennai along with his son Akhil Anand. In August 2010, Anand joined the Board of Directors of Olympic Gold Quest, a foundation for promoting and supporting India's elite sportspersons and potential young talent. In 2010 Anand donated his World Championship gold medal from his successful 2008 title defense to the charitable organisation "The Foundation" to be auctioned off for the benefit of underprivileged children.
Rating and Ranking
Anand is one of eight players in history to officially crack the 2800 mark, peaking at 2817 in March and May 2011, when he was also ranked world #1. Between April 2007 and May 2011, Anand was ranked world #1 for a total of 21 months.
At the age of 45 and after placing 2nd at the Gashimov Memorial Tournament in Shamkir, Anand re-entered the "2800 club" for the first time since exiting that rating bracket in November 2011. His result at the Norway Chess tournament in June 2015 pushed his rating back up to 2816, close to his peak rating to date, and to #2 in the world behind Carlsen.
Sources and references
Live rating: http://www.2700chess.com/; Biography of Anand at the official FIDE website for the 2012 World Championship match: http://moscow2012.fide.com/en/prese...; Wikipedia article: Viswanathan Anand; * Aronian vs Anand, 2013
Latest update 26 June 2015