A charmer and a champion, Viswanathan Anand is loved wherever he goes. The crowd can never get enough of him. They want his autographs and be photographed with him. As much as possible, Anand is known to accommodate all such requests.
In the past week, in a first, the City of Joy’s chess-loving audience has won over all the participants of the Tata Steel chess, here. Anand was no different. As it turned out, he could produce just what the crowd wanted as he more than made up for his below-par showing the rapid section by winning the blitz title in a spectacular manner.
“I wanted to show the audience what is that I do in some other part of the world all the time and it was nice to be able to do it here. It’s a different audience than everywhere else. On top of that, today was just like a dream,” said Anand on receiving the winner’s salver.
“It’s long been a dream of mine. And, we have ticked the other boxes, we have good Opens (tournaments), we have strong players. But, the one thing that was lacking was frequent visits by the top players in the world. Now, we have that. So, it meant a lot to me to be able to play here in India, and especially, here, in Kolkata,” said Anand.
About his journey to the title, Anand revealed he was not “ready to play the playoff” since he thought he had finished half a point behind Nakamura. No wonder, he was surprised when wife Aruna said that he would be required to play the tie-break games.
Nakamura, champion in rapid format and tied with Anand for the blitz crown before losing in playoffs was all praise for the champion.
“To me what Vishy has done…, I’m almost certain I won’t be playing chess at that age. So, it’s really remarkable and I think, especially, if you compare (him) with Garry (Kasparov). For example, Garry kind of came out of retirement to play in St. Louis. And, I think Vishy did better than he did. There is no reason he should stop and it just shows what a truly amazing chess player he is.”
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