Vishy Remembers – Part II

12/24/2012 – In 2008 Viswanathan Anand, who has been the undisputed World Champion since 2007, recorded two DVDs for ChessBase. Prof. Nagesh Havanur has reviewed these gems. In part one he looked at Anand's early career; in this second part he deals with the chess content of the DVDs and has selected a highly entertaining game by Anand against Kasparov. It includes historical video footage.

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Vishy Remembers – Part II

By Prof. Nagesh Havanur

The first part of this review was published last week. Here I shall deal with the chess content of the DVD. Volume one begins with his first steps in chess and takes us right up to the year 2000 when he won the FIDE world title. There are as many as 1424 games of which more than 450 are annotated, several by Anand himself.

Volume two covers the period 2000-2008, just before the commencement of the world championship match with Kramnik. It has 1038 games of which about 375 games are annotated. Apart from Anand himself the annotators include Robert Hübner, Igor Stohl and Mihail Marin, Lubomir Ftacnik among others. It should be pointed out that some of their analysis here has been superseded by the more recent annotations in the book, Viswanathan Anand: World Chess Champion by Anand and Nunn (Gambit 2012).

As of now this DVD set is the largest database on Anand up to 2008 with 2462 games of which about 830 are annotated by him and others.

Both the DVDs are neatly divided into several segments. In each Anand first narrates events and then offers critical moments from games explaining what's going on. The commentary itself is crystal clear, the variations short and to the point. On occasion it is a bit fast. But you can always pause and follow his line of thought.

Anand-Kasparov, Tilburg 1991

Kramnik-Anand, Belgrad 1997

This brings me to some limitations of the DVDs. 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 will find some of it in the Jubilee DVD of ChessBase Magazine (Vol 100), a rare collector’s item today. Fortunately, the games are very much there, with many nuggets among them. I have resisted the temptation to show some of them here and instead picked an entertaining game that Anand himself likes and comments on...

[Event "Geneve PCA-GP Credit Suisse"] [Site "Geneve"] [Date "1996.09.01"] [Round "4.4"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Kasparov, Garry"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2750"] [BlackElo "2785"] [Annotator "Anand,V"] [PlyCount "107"] [EventDate "1996.08.??"] [EventType "rapid"] [EventRounds "4"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2004.01.01"] {King: This was the second blitz game in the play-off of the final of the PCA quickplay in Geneva (the first was drawn). Anand was convinced that the opening variation was better for White so repeated it. However, he was less thrilled to find himself with exactly the same pawn structure on the kingside as before. Once again, Kasparov had a superb position.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 Ng4 7. Bg5 h6 8. Bh4 g5 9. Bg3 Bg7 10. Be2 h5 11. Bxg4 Bxg4 12. f3 Bd7 13. Bf2 Nc6 14. Qd2 Ne5 15. O-O g4 $1 {His improvement over the 1st game.} 16. f4 Nc4 17. Qe2 Rc8 $1 18. b3 Na3 19. Nd5 e6 20. Nb4 Qa5 21. Qe1 h4 $1 {A very nice demonstration of power play - Black could probably already try to win something on the kingside, but tries to squeeze the maximum out of the position.} 22. Be3 h3 23. g3 Nb5 24. Rd1 Nc3 25. Nd3 Qc7 26. Rc1 Nxe4 $19 27. f5 e5 28. f6 {What else can I do?} Nxf6 29. Nf5 Bxf5 30. Rxf5 Qc6 31. Qe2 Qe4 32. Rf2 Nd5 33. Re1 {With one last hope.} Qxe3 $4 {Well, this more than compensates me for the missed win in game three!} 34. Qxg4 $1 $16 {The face pulling he did now rivalled anything he has ever done!} O-O 35. Rxe3 Nxe3 36. Qxh3 {King: Anand said afterwards that he thought 36 Qd7 might have been stronger, but after his experience with this opening in speed game one, he had learned his lesson: the pawn on h3 just had to go. A sound practical decision, and germane to this discussion. A rook's pawn nested on the sixth rank can create all kinds of difficulties. Here, it helps to set up a mating net, but even without queens, such a pawn is a thorn in the side, as we shall see.} Nxc2 37. Qd7 Nd4 $2 (37... e4 38. Nf4 Bd4) 38. Qxb7 a5 39. Kg2 Rc3 40. Nb2 Nc2 41. Nc4 d5 42. Nd6 Ne3+ 43. Kh3 f5 44. Qd7 f4 45. Qe6+ Kh7 46. Nf7 Rxf7 47. Qxf7 Rc6 48. gxf4 Rf6 49. Qc7 e4 50. f5 d4 51. Qe7 Rh6+ 52. Kg3 Nd1 53. Rf4 e3 54. Rg4 {And I won my first Grand Prix since April 1994!} 1-0

Video of the critical part of the game. In his Youtube upload the author, Frederic Friedel, writes: "Ancient footage I captured with my Sony video camera and then compressed drastically, so it would fit – together with lots of other videos – on the ChessBase Magazine Vol 55 CD. Sorry for the tiny format, in those days we did not have much bandwidth so spend."

In recent years Anand has undergone a crisis of form with challenge from younger talents like Aronian and Carlsen. On his own admission his play has left much to be desired. But he is determined to come back. As the adage goes, form is temporary and class is permanent. This DVD is worth viewing for that touch of class.

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