Viswanathan Anand (born 11 December 1969) is an Indian chess grandmaster and former world chess champion. He became the first grandmaster from India in 1988, and is one of the few players to have surpassed an Elo rating of 2800, a feat he first achieved in 2006.
Anand is a five-time world chess champion.He defeated Alexei Shirov in a six-game match to win the 2000 FIDE World Chess Championship, a title he held until 2002. He became the undisputed world champion in 2007, and defended his title against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008, Veselin Topalov in 2010, and Boris Gelfand in 2012. In 2013, he lost the title to challenger Magnus Carlsen, and lost a rematch to Carlsen in 2014 after winning the 2014 Candidates Tournament.
In April 2006, Anand became the fourth player in history to pass the 2800 Elo mark on the FIDE rating list, after Kramnik, Topalov, and Garry Kasparov. He occupied the number one position for 21 months, the sixth-longest period on record.
Known for his rapid playing speed as a child, Anand earned the sobriquet “Lightning Kid” during his early career in the 1980s. He has since developed into a universal player, and many consider him the greatest rapid chess player of his generation. He won the FIDE World Rapid Chess Championship in 2003 and 2017, the World Blitz Cup in 2000, and numerous other top-level rapid and blitz events.
Anand was the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1991–92, India’s highest sporting honour. In 2007, he was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, making him the first sportsperson to receive the award.
Viswanathan Anand was born on 11 December 1969 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, where he grew up. His father, Krishnamurthy Viswanathan, a retired general manager of Southern Railways, had studied in Jamalpur, Bihar, and his mother, Sushila, was a housewife, chess aficionado and an influential socialite.
Anand is the youngest of three children. He is 11 years younger than his sister and 13 years younger than his brother. His brother, Shivakumar, is a manager at Crompton Greaves in India. His sister, Anuradha, is a professor at the University of Michigan.
Anand started learning chess from age six from his mother, but learned the intricacies of the game in Manila where he lived with his parents from 1978 through the ’80s while his father was contracted as a consultant by the Philippine National Railways.
Anand married Aruna in 1996 and has a son, born on 9 April 2011, named in the traditional patronymic way Anand Akhil.
In August 2010, Anand joined the board of directors of Olympic Gold Quest, a foundation for promoting and supporting India’s elite sportspersons and potential young talent. On 24 December 2010, he was the guest of honour on the grounds of Gujarat University, where 20,486 players created a new world record of simultaneous chess play at a single venue.
His hobbies are reading, swimming, and listening to music.
Anand has been regarded as an unassuming person with a reputation for refraining from political and psychological ploys and instead focusing on his game. This has made him a well-liked figure throughout the chess world for two decades, evidenced by the fact that Kasparov, Kramnik, and Carlsen, all of whom were rivals for the world championship during Anand’s career, each aided him in his preparations for the 2010 World Chess Championship. Anand is sometimes known as the “Tiger of Madras”.
Anand was denied an honorary doctorate from University of Hyderabad because of confusion over his citizenship status; India’s Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal later apologised and said, “There is no issue on the matter as Anand has agreed to accept the degree at a convenient time depending on his availability”. According to The Hindu, Anand finally declined to accept the doctorate.
The President, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil presenting the Padma Vibhushan to Shri Viswanathan Anand, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in 2008
Anand has received many national and international awards.
Indian national honours
- Arjuna Awardfor Outstanding Indian sports person in Chess in 1985.
- Padma Shri– Fourth highest civilian award awarded by Government of India in 1987.
- The inaugural Rajiv Gandhi Khel RatnaAward, India’s highest sporting honour in the years 1991–1992.
- Padma Bhushan– Third highest civilian award awarded by Government of India in 2000.
- Padma Vibhushan– Second highest civilian award awarded by Government of India in 2007.
- National Citizens Award and Soviet Land Nehru Award in 1987
- British Chess Federation“Book of the Year” Award in 1998 for his book My Best Games of Chess.
- Anand has won the Chess Oscarin 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008. The Chess Oscar is awarded to the year’s best player according to a worldwide poll of leading chess critics, writers, and journalists conducted by the Russian chess magazine 64.
- Sportstar Best Sportsperson of the Year for 1995
- Sportstar Millennium Award in 1998, from India’s premier sports magazine for being the sportsperson of the millennium.
- “Global Strategist Award” for mastering many formats of World Chess Championships by NASSCOMin 2011.
- Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaahonoured Anand with a cheque of Rs 2 crores, for winning the World Chess Championship for the fifth time.
- In 2012, he received the “Indian sportsperson of the year” and “Indian of the year” awards.
- In 2014 Anand was awarded the Russian Order of Friendshipfor the development of economic, scientific and cultural ties with Russia. The Order of Friendship was awarded to Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand, the participants in the FIDE World Chess Championship Match that was held at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow in 2012.
- In 2015 Anand was honoured with the top country award at the Spanish embassy, Delhion 8 January. It is given to the eminent people of Indian origin who helped to bring glory to both India and Spain.
- 4538 Vishyanand (provisional designation 1988 TP) is a main-belt minor planet. It was discovered by Kenzo Suzukiin Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, on 10 October 1988 and was named after Vishy on 1 April 2015.