A personal portrait of World Champion Anand

by ChessBase
12/23/2007 – The Indian network CNN-IBN has published an extraordinary TV portrait of Viswanathan Anand. In it Anand himself, his wife Aruna, his and her parents, friends, trainers, colleagues, all talk about the nation's favourite son. This includes music, food, clothing, travel, hobbies, ambitions, salsa and kickboxing. Yes, kickboxing. Take some time to watch this broadcast. It is a Christmas treat.

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Personal Video Portrait of World Champion Anand

The following five-part video report was produced for CNN-IBN, which is a partnership between Global Broadcast News (GBN), a Network18 Company, and Turner International (Turner) in India. IBNLive.com is the online arm of GBN with nationwide news gathering capabilities, superior journalistic talent, and a passion for news. In the fast-globalising India, it provides access to CNN's global news network.

Watch the videos

Part one: Anand speaks about the year that was possibly the greatest in his career so far. Wife Aruna talks about how he takes victory and defeat. Anand's parents Viswanathan and Susheela tell us about Anand as a young boy. Friends and colleagues talk about him.

Wife Aruna, Anand, father Viswanathan, mother Susheela

Part two: Anand talks about the new generation of players, Aruna about Anand's working techniques. It is interesting to hear how Anand overcame his 2002 crisis, and the strategy Aruna worked out to overcome it ("Play like you did when you were 17").

 Indian Women's Champion Tanya Sachdev talks affectionately about Anand

Part three: Music, mountain biking, astronomy – what Anand does at home in Spain. Friends, coffee shops, beach – Anand in Chennai, India. Memorable is Aruna's segment: "He's just a very regular guy. He's a bit absentminded, he can laugh in the most bizarre situations. Sometimes I will be talking about something so serious to him, and he'll ask me something so whacky that after that I cannot be serious." One of our favourite stories is about when he was travelling in a train and was asked by a fellow passenger what he did. Anand said he was a chess player. "But you are also studying somewhere," the man asked. "No, I'm just a chess player," he replied. "You have a job on the side?" – "No, just a chess player." This went on for a while until the passenger said: "The life of a professional sports person is difficult, you should think carefully about it. Now if you were Viswanathan Anand it would be different..." In the final section Aruna's mother talks about how the two met and how they decided to marry. It all hinged on a second cup of coffee!

Music fan Anand, Aruna, Aruna's mom and dad

Part four: Anand and Aruna on travel, salsa, kick-boxing, dressing, bright colours. Aruna: "Generally the rule of thumb is that if he likes something I will not like it. So it is very easy to buy something for Anand. If I look at something and think my god that is not something I would pick I'm sure Anand will like it." Anand shows off his Spanish in this section. The "foodies" talk about their diet, and Aruna's mom and dad about how Anand has remained the old Anand, even after becoming World Champion.

Stunning in pink. Memo to Aruna: don't wear anything else! Memo to Anand: Blue's fine.

Part five: Anand answers a number of quickies, like biggest weakness – "probably laziness" –, spend his life with – "well, (pause), Aruna" –, biggest fear – "small spaces", and many others. What is chess for him? "Work and play", What would he change about himself? Anand's candid reply: "I'm fine with me!" Friend Saravanan: "You see his intelligence, you see his memory, you see his capacity to absorb ideas – he would have been somewhere on the level of Stephan Hawking or Einstein, something very big in whatever he did." The effervescent Tanya Sachdev tells how Anand, when asked for ten secrects of his success in chess, said there is just one, that I enjoy the game. Don't miss the African safari shots, after which Anand reveals that he would like to make a trip to the moon, in 20 or 30 years, if it is possible. "Unfortunately Mars and beyond are not really for our lifetimes."

Note that we will be passing any messages we receive until December 27 to Anand and Aruna. Use the feedback button on the top left and "Message for Anand" as the subject line.

Recent news reports

21.12.07 The Hindu
Viswanathan Anand on Friday said he is not too concerned about the World Championship match against Russian Grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik. "It is a big challenge and I will have to train hard but right now I am only focusing on the first three months. I will decide on the preparations for the match only after that. But it is going to be close... we have played over 75 matches together," Anand said. Full article...

22.12.07 The Telegraph
The world champion said that children shouldn’t be put under any kind of pressure for the sake of sports. “To put children under pressure at a young age is a dangerous trend,” Anand said. “It doesn’t help anyone. I don’t think any child should put his or her career at stake for chess or any other sports. There should be always something to fall back upon if you don’t succeed in sports.” Full article...

22.12.07 The Hindu
Anand met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Mani Shankar Aiyar, who said that he was proud that the world champion came from his constituency, Mayiladuthurai. Full story...

23.12.07 Zeenews
"When I returned to India after winning the World Championship, I was touched by the kind of reception and welcome accorded to me. It is untrue to say that only cricket is getting prominence," Anand said. "Chess is gaining popularity in India, especially in the last 15 years, as it was an indoor game and can be played anywhere." Anand said among the younger players in the country Sashikiran and Koneru Humpy have a bright future in the international scene. When asked how long he wants to continue playing chess, Anand said he was not thinking about retirement at present and wants to concentrate on his game for another 5-6 years. Anand promised to speak Hindi like his wife as he is touring the entire country to promote chess and mastery over the language will help him interact with a larger audience. Zeenews...

Economic Times Chennai: Home among the stars

At the peak of his career, Anand, with his wife Aruna, is unwinding in the couple's new house off Chamiers Road in Chennai. "We chose this house since I liked the garden here. But it is Aruna who took care of the interiors; she designed them through the Internet," he says. "We are still arranging and re-arranging things around here."

Aruna says, "Both of us are foodies. Apart from trying my hand at our own cuisine, I try out cuisine from other countries as well. Whenever we go to a restaurant and like a particular food item, I get into the kitchen and ask for the recipe." Anand has taken a particular liking to Mexican seafood. "The lobsters are great there," he says. Take the couple away from Chess, it would seem that they posses enough credentials to start a restaurant with varied international cuisine!

Astronomy is one of Anand's greater interests. “Whenever I’m free, I search for the night sky in the city where I stay, and try to see different patterns, different constellations…" he says. With a new pair of night vision binoculars, Anand is still trying to make whatever little he can of Chennai's night sky. "By the way, let me remind Aruna that she has promised me a fine telescope for my victory," he says, grinning at her.

For someone in his late 30s, who has been playing chess for the last 25 years, Anand has a surprisingly simple take on this. "For me, chess is not a profession," confesses Anand, "It is a way of life, a passion. People may feel that I have conquered the peak and will not have to struggle. Financially, perhaps that is true; but as far as chess goes, I’m still learning a lot!" Full story...

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