More than a decade ago, when Magnus Carlsen was making waves as a pre-teen sensation, during one of our conversations, Viswanathan Anand mentioned that the Norwegian talent was only continuing a trend of young talents taking on veterans thrice their age.
“You remember, when I came on the international scene, I was a third of Viktor Korchnoi’s age. Today, Magnus is a third of my age,” was how Anand had made his point.
In fact, a closer look at the composition of the field in the ongoing Tata Steel chess reinforces Anand’s observation. “Did Anand notice that Vidit (Gujrati), at 24, is half your age. And R. Praggnanandhaa (13) is around half of Vidit’s age?”
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“I didn’t realise that,” responded Anand, looking a bit surprised, but went on, “Yes. Now that you mentioned it, it does make me look old. But I am able to interact with this new generation of players very easily. Among the players here, Levon (Aronian) considers himself of my generation. But the truth is, he is much younger,” said Anand.
Last month, Aronian turned 36 and next month, Anand completes 49. The 13 years separating the two oldest players in the fray, matches the age of Praggnanandhaa, the youngest competitor. The rest of the participants here are somewhere in between.
- Anand won his first Tamil Nadu sub-junior title in 1982, the year Levon Aronian was born.
- Won his first National sub-junior title in 1983, the year Surya Shekhar Ganguly was born.
- Received the Arjuna Award in in 1985, the year, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was born.
- Became an International Master in 1986, the year P. Hari Krishna was born.
- Became a Grandmaster in December 1987 — 20 days after Hikaru Nakamura was born.
- Crossed the rating of 2600 in 1990, the year Sergey Karjakin was born.
- Crossed the rating of 2700 in 1993, the year Wesley So was born.
- Became joint World No. 2 1994, the year Vidit Gujrati was born.
- Was the reigning World rapid champion in 2004, the year Nihal Sarin was born.
- Became the only player to regain all three titles at stake in the Melody Amber blindfold and rapid tournament in 2005, the year when R. Praggnanandhaa was born.