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Monday, January 1, 2018

Viswanathan Anand ~ wins World Rapid Chess Championship in Riyadh

Great achievers do not climb to top in a meteoric manner, they work hard, marshall their resources best and upon reaching top, stay there for a long while !

I have not heard of - Vladimir Vasilyevich Fedoseev, just 22 years of age, another grandmaster from Russia and read more of him for his recent loss.  In 2011, Fedoseev won the under 18 section of the Russian Youth Championships and has been rising steadily.  This tweet by his fellow Russian grandmaster speaks Volumes.

In the fast and competitive World, there are stories of burn-outs; youngsters having a meteoric rise but unable to sustain their momentum for long and fading into oblivion.  In early days, people struck to one Company, a Government job was the one most sought after ; and retired peacefully. Retirement was a great ceremony – the head of the Institution present in that location would be present, so also would be almost all the members in that office – nice words would be spoken of the person retiring.  He would be honoured with a sandal garland, given apples and mostly dropped home in the Office car accompanied by colleagues…… .. ,.. ..

          retirement is  an emotional event for everyone and it is more emotional for the retiree.    But, sadly, in our Nation the clamour for calling to sportspersons to retire is high – when a great star fails more than a couple of time, all talks of retirements fills up ~ often people speaking about the retirement of Dhoni, though he is fit and performing so well.  One should not only see how he performs, but also ponder who else could be his replacement and how good he is !!  once we heard Sandip Patil state  : "there were lots of discussions" around the future of MS Dhoni's limited-overs captaincy around the time he retired from Test cricket in December 2014. Dhoni's unexpected exit from the longest format mid-way through India's Test series in Australia came as a "shock", Patil said.

Very happy news for all Indian sports fans ~ the victory of  Viswanathan Anand. After a disastrous string of results in the Leuven Grand Chess Tour in July, where he finished eighth in a 10-man grid and a score of 8/18, five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand sighed: “There’s no point playing chess like this. I think I was playing just mental.” His stringent self-assessment was misconstrued as an imminent voice of retirement, more so after he finished last in the London Chess Classic, much to his displeasure. “I’m not harbouring such negative thoughts. I’m motivated as ever before,” he crunched his angst through his Twitter handle.

Five months later, by winning the World Rapid Championship in Riyadh, he defied the assumptions that he was clinging onto the circuit like an out-of sorts, over-the-hill veteran slogging forth in the fading illusion of another crown. Rather, he showed that he still breathed the absolute conviction that he could challenge the best in the business, like upending Magnus Carlsen, not just the world champion but considered the best ever in the rapid chess. The upset win and the title comes at 48, an age when most successful sportsmen would be thinking of settling at a fancy farmhouse in an idyllic countryside. Here is our PM Sri Narendra Modiji greeting him on twitter.

A win against his arch-rival Magnus Carlsen in the ninth round seemed to have spurred him on as he demolished Russia’s Vladimir Fedoseev in the final in a tie breaker.  By  regaining the World Rapid Chess Championship in Riyadh and staying unbeaten all through,  the great Vishy Anand  has given a fitting repartee  to all his critics.  Anand, who last won this title in 2003, was placed joint second at the start of the final five rounds (11 to 15) on Thursday, but fought back strongly to bag the title on tie-break after a three-way tie with Russians Vladimir Fedoseev and Ian Nepomniachtchi at 10.5 points from a possible 15.

On Thursday, Anand played a couple of draws before defeating Russia’s Alexander Grischuk in the 14th  and penultimate round of the tournament with white pieces. Once leader Carlsen was held to a draw by Vladislav Artemiev of Russia, Anand joined the Norwegian at the top of the standings. In the final round, Anand drew against Bu Xiangzhi of China while Carlsen was stunned by Grishchuk.  At the end of fifteen rounds, Anand remained unbeaten in the competition with six wins and nine draws. The former World No 1, who had lost his crown to Carlsen in 2013, reclaimed the title he had won in 2003 beating Vladimir Kramnik in the final.

Chess, in a sense, is decided by mistakes; you provoke mistakes from your opponent. And you must necessarily survive your own mistakes. In the short-form world championship, too, he had his share of mistakes.  The 48 year old has proved that he is not faulty while encashing the mistakes of opponents. To think that Anand was deliberating on quitting seems sillier now. If any, it could have the same liberating effect on him as it did to Viktor Korchnoi after he defected from the Soviet Union when he was 45. He maintained his strength in later years, attributing it partly to a daily routine of jogging, caviar and yoga, and at 75 was the oldest player ever to be ranked in the world top 100. Playing until 75 might be a bit of stretch—unlike Korchnoi, he didn’t have the burning ambition to win a World Championship.  In the opinion of Herbert Alexander Simon, one among the founding fathers of artificial intelligence, Grandmasters can recognise at least 50,000 patterns on a chess board.

The man who tweeted greeting Anand,  Garry Kasparov quit  and threw his hat in politics only to realise that  Vladimir Putin is a canny operator.  When chess grand master Garry Kasparov made major movements to challenge Putin's United Russia party for control of the Kremlin in 2008, it was seen as a showdown of shrewd calculators. Kasparov, who was the undisputed world champion of chess in both the 1980s and '90s, handed in his rooks and bishops in 2005 to gear up for the 2008 race. His self-professed motivations: corruption and the stemming of democracy in post-Soviet Russia.  As the  Baku-born Kasparov  began organizing political rallies,  he was to get exposed to the full force of the Russian security apparatus, which painted the political neophyte as an English-speaking outsider. After pleading with election officials over the 2007 parliamentary elections, which were predetermined to be anything but free and fair, Kasparov found himself in jail for five days. In December 2007, Kasparov withdrew his candidacy for the presidency when Other Russia failed to comply with an election rule mandating a formal nomination convention for any candidate.

Chess is shrewd game that wise men play .. and Anand is a super star.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

30th Dec 2017.

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