FIDE corrects its mistake

K. PITCHUMANI

It is time for the beleaguered Indian sports fan to celebrate a truly great achievement and Asia to greet V. Anand, its first ever World No. 1 in chess.

On April 1, Viswanathan Anand should have woken up feeling like a king. Instead, he was forced to wonder if somebody was trying to make an April fool of him.

After his splendid triumph at the Linares tournament in Spain in February-March, Anand was expected to move into the No. 1 position in world ranking on April 1 (the world chess governing body FIDE brings out its ranking list once in four months). But strangely, the 37-year-old found himself at No. 2 and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria at No. 1 in FIDE's April rating list. That was because FIDE didn't consider Linares for the rating calculations — for the first time ever since the April list was introduced in 2001.

Anand, who was playing in the Bundesliga in Germany when the controversy broke out, didn't react. The rest of the chess world did.

The All India Chess Federation protested and support came for Anand from the rest of the chess-playing nations too. FIDE could have done only one thing: to correct the list. It did, on April 2. And Anand finally became the World No. 1, after being the No. 2 for the better part of the last 10 years. There were, however, a few occasions during the last decade when he was actually the world's best player (the Chess Oscars he won in 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2004 are proof of that).

When Garry Kasparov — the Don Bradman of chess — quit two years ago, Anand was expected to take over, but Topalov staged a coup and the Indian was stuck at No. 2. If Anand was frustrated, he didn't show it, he just kept playing consistent and brilliant chess. He knew his time would come.

It is time now for the beleaguered Indian sports fan to celebrate a truly great achievement — it is not every day that an Indian becomes the World No. 1 in a global and competitive sport — and Asia to greet its first ever World No. 1 in chess.

P. K. Ajith Kumar