How many instances have we had in the sporting history of this nation when an Indian had become the world’s top ranked player in a truly democratic, world sport? It is the lack of such instances that makes it extra special when we have an Indian at the top. Let’s hear it for Vishy!
Amidst the mayhem of the Indian Cricket team’s ouster from ICC World Cup, there came a news that gladdened the hearts of every chess (and sport, for that matter) enthusiast of the nation.
In the April 2007 FIDE ElO rating list, Anand was ranked first in the world for the first time in his long and illustrous career. He is only the sixth person to head the rating list since its inception in 1970, the other five being Bobby Fischer, Anatoly Karpov, Gary Kasparov, Viladmir Kramnik and Topalov.
Of course, going by the history of the player, it was always a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ about his becoming the numero uno player. It can be recalled here that Anand is one of only four players in history to break the 2800 mark on the FIDE rating list and has been among the top three ranked players in classical time control chess in the world continuously since 1997.
But it was way back in 1991 that he had really burst on to the international stage. That year he won a prestigious tournament like Reggio Emilia – ahead of Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. Admirably, even at those high levels, Anand never left behind his “speed play” and continued to play the game much faster that anyone on the circuit. In 1991 itself, he made it to the quarter finals of the FIDE Candidates Tournament, before losing narrowly to Anatoly Karpov. But by then his brilliance was flashed enough to bedazzle the chess world. And then, there was no looking back for this wonder kid from Chennai.
His game collection, My Best Games of Chess, was published in the year 1998 and was updated in 2001.
In March 2007, Anand won the Linares chess tournament and it paved way for him eventually becoming the world No. 1 in April 2007. They say that staying at the top is more difficult than reaching there. Maybe not for Anand.