Anand’s Federer act in Dhoni style

Winning the World Rapid Chess Championship will have made Viswanathan Anand extremely happy not just because he won but also because of the kind of games he played.

Geniuses like Viswanathan Anand continue to defy age.   -  Getty Images

What Viswanathan Anand achieved at Riyadh on Thursday night was extraordinary. He won the World rapid chess championship at the age of 48, without losing even one of the 17 games he played.

The feat was as awe-inspiring as Roger Federer winning twin Slam this year as a 35-year-old and his contemporary M. S. Dhoni playing some memorable innings for India in limited overs’ cricket. Federer, Dhoni and Anand, along with golfing legend Tiger Woods, have, in fact, made 2017 the year for the ageless wonders for world sport.

Read: Anand wins World Rapid Chess Championship in Riyadh

Dhoni, in particular, will know how Anand would feel. The Indian wicket-keeper’s retirement had become such a hot topic for debate that all his team-mates, the coach and even the chief selector have had to come out with periodic statements about the need to have him in the side.

Since Anand is playing an individual game and not a team sport like cricket, he has had to answer his critics all by himself. There was at least one senior Indian player who stated that it was time he retired.

That seemed to have prompted Anand to say he was wondering why all sorts of ridiculous people were asking him to quit. At Riyadh, his answer was even more emphatic, without uttering a single word.

He has proved that there is still a lot of chess left in him. If, like Federer, like Dhoni, he can entertain his fans and give joy to his countrymen, let us not detract him by asking him to stop. 

For someone who has won five World championships in the classical format – that is the real thing, just as Tests in cricket – the victory at Riyadh may not rank at the very top, but it must have made him extremely happy. Not just because he won it, but also because of the kind of games he played.

He scored some fine wins, including one against his nemesis Magnus Carlsen in the ninth round. The Norwegian had beaten him twice in World title matches.

Carlsen was 10 when Anand won his first World title, at Teheran in 2000. It truly is remarkable that he has been able to win another World championship after 17 long years.

What is also true is the fact Anand has not been at his best for quite some time. He has been making the kind of mistakes he was incapable of when he was younger. But, he has also been doing well enough to retain his stature as one of the most admired and sought-after players in international chess.

He has always been one of the nicest persons you would find in sport. That is also the reason why so many people are happy that he has triumphed at Riyadh.

Though Anand may have gone to the Saudi Arabia capital without huge expectations, it would have been imprudent to rule out his chances completely. For, right from the time he was a schoolboy, he has been absolutely brilliant at playing fast. He used to take so little time to win his games he was nicknamed the Lightning Kid.

A kid he may no longer be. But his chess could still strike the opponent as lightning. Some geniuses, like Anand, like Federer, like Dhoni, can defy age. Let us savour the joyous moments they give us as long as we can.