Anand and Darpan – two champions meet

7/9/2010 – Both became national champions at the age of 16 – Vishy Anand in 1986, the youngest Indian player to win the title, and 2010 Darpan Inani, the youngest Indian to win the National Blind Chess Championship. A meeting between the two was arranged, and to Darpan's delight the World Champion spent some quality time with him. A touching Midday story.

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Vish Comes True

By Manisha Mohite

Two men in love with the game, meet over 64 black and white squares, thanks to Midday. One is World Champion Viswanathan Anand, and the other, blind chess champion Darpan Inani, who now believes in miracles.

  • Bombay 1986: Viswanathan Anand (16) becomes the youngest Indian player to win the National Chess title.

  • Mumbai 2010: Darpan Inani (16) becomes the youngest Indian to win the National Blind Chess Championship.

Tingling nerves marked blind chess champion, Darpan Inanis butterflies-in-the-stomach wait for his idol Viswanathan Anand recently. Inani who rushed from his home town Baroda, was in the hotel lobby, half an hour earlier than scheduled. It was difficult to find free time with Anands schedule for the couple of days, a very hectic one but the Indian maestro immediately squeezed in some time when informed about Darpans desire to meet him.

On spotting Darpan, Anand without a seconds hesitation delayed his lunch appointment and sat down to interact with the youngster. Darpan will be the youngest Indian to represent his country at the World Chess Championship for the Blind scheduled in Serbia this August.

A thrilled Darpan was speechless for a while and could not stop beaming as Anand queried him on his interests and chess choices. A victim of the Steven Johnson Syndrome (allergic reaction to medicine in his case), Darpan lost his sight as a four-year-old, but not his vision for chess.

His self-confidence and belief easily singles him out, and his adept handling of the laptop impressed Anand. Darpan showed a few of his played games to Anand who quickly scanned, analysed and suggested improvements.

A truly touching moment was when the tall and towering bespectacled Anand, hunched over to interact with the small and slightly built youngster, sporting dark glasses, their love and passion for the 64 squares taking them into their own world, oblivious of the surroundings.

Anand also agreed to help out the youngster with his preparation for the World Championship games and promised to keep touch via email. When queried whether he watched Anand defeating Topalov in the last World Championship Match, Darpan pitched in, “I enjoy Anand's games with the King Pawn Opening, as I think he is spectacular in open positions and conjures up some superb combinations. Somehow I have not liked him switching to the Queen Pawn opening in recent times.” However, he added that despite his dislike, Anand has produced greater results in World Title matches with this opening against Kramnik and Topalov.

Anand, when quizzed about his memories as a 16-year-old, grinned and said, “my most pleasant experience as a 16-year-old was of writing and wrapping up my tenth standard board examinations and then enjoying the long vacation.

Impressive talent

He was also quick to praise Darpan saying, “I found him an impressive talent, and he has a very healthy habit of analyzing his own games, which should take him a long way.“ I hope that he does well in the World Championship. When I was 16, there were no computers and I was carting books and excess baggage to tournaments. After winning my first title in Mumbai, I went about accumulating norms for titles. The only thing common is that I had difficulty in opening preparation, which were from books in those days, but even today with computer aid, I still had opening trouble in the World Championship. That has remained same, then and now,” said Anand.

Darpan Thrilled

“Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that Anand would actually spend so much time with me,” gushed Darpan. “I had imagined that it might be a formal handshake and some routine advice, but his warmth and interest has bowled me over. I simply cannot get over his humility. This is the happiest day of my life, and this meeting has really motivated me. I promise to work harder for the World Championship,” said Darpan.


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