Good humour, personal stories, and the champion's best games

11/28/2008 – Vishy Anand's clear victory at the World Championship in Bonn was the chess highlight of the year. During the match one wag suggested Kramnik might have fared better had he watched Anand's DVDs 'My Career'. Steve Goldberg of Chesscafe did just that and enjoyed the great combination of humour, anecdotes and in-depth annotation in volume two. Buy it now or read more.

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Vishy Arrives

Viswanathan Anand: 'My Career, Volume 2' - review by Steve Goldberg (www.chesscafe.com)

Volume 2 begins in the year 2000 and includes games as recent as June 2008. This DVD contains 1,037 of Anand’s games during this period, and he annotates a number of them over the course of the more than four hours of video segments. As in the first volume, he adds personal and humorous anecdotes along the way.

For example, in September of 2000, Anand won the FIDE World Cup tournament. He was met with throngs of fans upon his arrival in India, many of whom thought that winning the World Cup meant that he was now the world champion. When asked what his next plans were, he explained that he hoped to win the World Championship later that year in New Delhi and they asked, “Are there two world championships in one year?”  Anand was caught a bit off-guard until he realized the fans’ misunderstanding. “I thought that was cute,” he says.

In the semi-final round of the FIDE knockout world championship tournament toward the end of 2000 (against Michael Adams), Anand notes the occurrence of a highly unusual event – a grandmaster game with queens still on the board and material balance, yet one side resigns. This is the position reached after 36.Bd1 in Anand-Adams, FIDE WCh KO New Delhi (6.2), 13.12.2000:


Anand - Adams (2000)
Black resigned after 36.Bd1

Adams resigned here, and Anand explains that Black has no defense to 37.Bg4, although he leaves it to the reader to determine why various Black attempts fail.

After defeating Adams, Anand met Alexei Shirov in the final round of the knockout tournament, and scored 3½-½ to win the championship. “This time I could finally say I had won the championship,” Anand says, in reference to the World Cup confusion of some of his fans.

Earlier in his career, Anand explains, there wasn’t formal training – training generally involved playing in a club, or maybe exchanging a few ideas with another player. “In those days, you were pretty much tied to when the next Informator would come out, or when the next ChessBase magazine would come out.” It wasn’t until about 1991 that he began working with trainers. He especially feels he benefited from working with a number of Russians – Gurevich, Yusupov, and others.

In the 2001 FIDE world championship knockout tournament, Anand describes how he very nearly got knocked out in the first round to an opponent rated 400 points lower, but survived until the semi-final round versus Ivanchuk. Anand later recalls some of the events surrounding the FIDE-PCA/Kasparov reunification talks in 2002. He remembers feeling left out, assuming that he would be in the mix of any world championship discussions, since he had been one of the world’s top players for several years (he attained the world #2 spot in 1996, and was not lower than #3 thereafter), but his name was nowhere to be found among the names bandied about for proposed championship matches. “I still had some pride,” he says, and declined to participate in the championship format as organized.

Anand is well-known for moving quickly, even in games with standard time controls. In reviewing the year 2002, he recalled playing quite a few rapid games, followed by a series of standard “seven-hour” games, which he describes as being rather disorienting. “At a certain moment, we had stopped [during a game] for ten minutes … literally, it felt like playing correspondence chess.”

Anand’s good humor and personal stories are shared throughout this DVD, along with the in-depth annotations one would expect. A warning, however – at times Anand moves very quickly through his variations, perhaps forgetting that his viewers may not be 2700+ players. But the video segments can be easily paused and replayed as desired.

One of his many interesting victories that Anand shares with viewers is his win over Luke McShane at the end of 2003. After 30…Qg5 they reached the following position:


Anand - McShane (2003)
Next move 31.Bd3!

Anand, playing white, came up with 31.Bd3! “It’s amazing to move it to a threatened square, but if I don’t move it there, where does it go?” he commented. In addition, this allows Anand to continue his plan of pushing his b-pawn. Play followed 31…exd3 (Anand notes that 31…Bd4 or 31…Bc3 may have been a bit stronger) 32.b5 Anand wasn’t quite sure which pawn he wanted to capture, so he chose to delay his decision for the moment. 32…d2 33.Nxf3 Qh6 34.Qh4 Allowing movement along the fourth rank. 34…Qb6 35.Nxd2 Rc2 36.Rbd1 Re8 37.f6 “This is a clear mistake. I had to play Qg5, I think. And then it’s quite unpleasant for Black because of my sheer pawn mass.” 37…Bxf6 Anand says that 37…Bh6 would have been better. For example, if 38.Nf3 Re4 and White is pushed back. Or 38…Rc4 and the a-pawn may be lost. 38.a5 “This was the original idea. It has to be said that McShane was in big time trouble at this time.” 38…Bxh4 Black can’t take the a- or b-pawn with his queen since the f6-bishop would be hanging. 39.axb6 Bd8 40.b7 “Now all the pawns are arriving.” 40…Bb6 41.Rc1 So that if 41…Rxd2 42.Rc8. 41…Bg6 “Now there’s an unusual tactic:” 42.Rce1 If 42…Rb8 43.Re6. 1-0 “For me, this was a spectacular way to finish 2003.”


Anand - Grischuk (200´7) Black played 30...g5

Of course, Anand also spends time reviewing his 2007 world championship victory in Mexico City, but in his modesty only three video segments (of the twenty-four total on the DVD) are devoted to this tournament. He annotates his wins against Aronian, Svidler and Grischuk. In the Anand-Grischuk game, the following position was reached after 30.Ra3:

Here Grischuk played 30…g5, but in an enlightening positional comment, Anand notes that 30…g5 was too aggressive, because it turns out that g6 is an important square, and Anand proceeds to demonstrate why. This is a nice explanation for non-masters.

This reviewer thoroughly enjoyed both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Viswanathan Anand: My Career. There may not be any eye-opening revelations, but it’s always interesting to see how world-class players such as Anand analyze a game. As noted above, there were many occasions in which his analysis went a bit too fast, but the astute viewer can use his comments as a starting point for further study on their own.


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