Vishy Remembers – Part I
By Prof. Nagesh Havanur
My Career: Volume 1 – ChessBase DVD 2008
Tal Chess Club 1976. A tiny tot has just entered the tournament hall and is
eagerly looking around, eyes full of curiosity.
No, he has not come to watch, he has come to play. Now what are the seniors
supposed to with the little fellow? They can hardly offer him a point when their
own results are at stake. So game after game he ends up with a naught. But that
does not matter. He just loves to play. Then comes the fourth round and his
opponent does not turn up. After the mandatory wait he is awarded the point
by the arbiter. Thrilled, he runs home and announces “I won!” –
“Who was your opponent?” – “I don’t know. He ran
away!” At home they smile even as they hear the story over and over again.
He has won by default, but too young to know the difference. He doesn’t
score many points in that tournament. But he is awarded a special prize for
Thus begins the career of a prodigy whom we now know and recognise as Viswanathan
Anand. In this DVD he tells the story of his remarkable career.
As is well-known, Anand learnt the moves of the game from his mother...
... and received all encouragement from his
parents who sensed that he had an exceptional talent.
Volume one of Anand's chess career DVD begins with his first steps in chess
and takes us right up to the year 2000 when he won the FIDE world title. It's
hard to do justice to this remarkable product packed with so much material.
So I shall confine myself to a few salient points. There are as many as 1424
games of which more than 450 are annotated, several by Anand himself. Besides,
he also selects critical points from a number of games and explains what's going
on. On occasion this is a bit fast. But you can always pause and follow his
line of thought.
Anand-Kasparov, Tilburg 1991
Anand-Shirov, Dos Hermanas 1997
Kramnik-Anand, Belgrad 1997
The commentary itself is crystal clear, the variations short and to the point.
This brings me to a few limitations of the DVD. Anand does not say much about
his early experience in India. Probably he thinks he was too young and the level
of competition low. So he does not even mention the fact that he became the
national champion at the age of 16, way back in 1986. As for competition abroad,
he does not dwell too much on failures and tends to skip over unhappy results.
On the other hand he can be very sporting and appreciate a fine effort by an
opponent. So a number of fighting draws and even losses are included. This offers
a balanced view of a great player who is no less human than the rest of us.
ChessBase has followed Anand's career from inception and captured some remarkable
footage over the years. It’s a pity that it isn’t included here.
You would find some of it in the Jubilee DVD of ChessBase Magazine, a rare collector’s
The Anand that we see now is a wise and mellowed world champion. In his younger
days he was much more lively and mischievous. Of course he knew how to carry
himself in the company of greats.
Seated: Mikhail Tal, Joel Lautier, Anand; standing: Bent Larsen,Viktor Korchnoi,
Garry Kasparov, Bessel Kok, Jan Timman, Boris Spassky
Anand grew up in a new era... of computers and technology. He learnt and adapted
himself quite fast. But he did not surrender his soul to the silicon monster.
Anand in 1988, working with an Atari, watched by a young fan, Thomas Friedel
Indeed, even today his is a voice of sanity in the tower of babel:
“… you know, it's like running against a car. There are some
things we do much better than computers, but since most of chess is tactically
based they do many things better than humans. And this imbalance remains.
I no longer have any issues. It’s bit like asking an astronomer, does
he mind that a telescope does all the work. He is used to it. It is just an
incredible tool that you can use. I know my PC is stronger than me at any
given time, and to have a chance against it I would spend a couple of weeks
thinking about computer chess, how to play against machines. You stop doing
anything imaginative, and you become very disciplined tactically. I can probably
still compete against it, but what's the point? Now my main aim is to use
it to find new ideas against Kramnik or someone else.”
In the remaining part of this review I intend to show games and positions from
the DVD. This introduction should be seen as a curtain-raiser. I have taken
a little liberty to recreate the scene when little Vishy arrived home to announce
his first victory in a tournament. Otherwise the story is true to the last detail.
To be continued...
Viswanathan Anand: My Career in the ChessBase Shop