Viswanathan Anand born December 11, 1969 is an Indian chess grandmaster and the current World Chess Champion.
Anand won the FIDE World Chess Championship in 2000, at a time when the world title was split. His win in the World Chess Championship 2007 has made him the undisputed World Champion since 2007. He is defending his title in the World Chess Championship 2008 against Vladimir Kramnik, in a match which began on October 14, 2008.
Anand is one of four players in history to break the 2800 mark on the FIDE rating list. He was on the top of the world rating list five out of six times from April 2007 to July 2008. In October 2008, he dropped out of the world top 3 for the first time since July 1996.
In 2007 he was awarded the second highest civilian award of India, the Padma Vibhushan. He is also the first receipient of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1991-92, India's highest sporting honour.
Vishwanathan Anand was born in 1969. He described his start in chess in a conversation with Susan Polgar:
"I started when I was six. My mother taught me how to play. In fact, my mother used to do a lot for my chess. We moved to the Philippines shortly afterward. I joined the club in India and we moved to the Philippines for a year. And there they had a TV program that was on in the afternoon, one to two or something like that, when I was in school. So she would write down all the games that they showed and the puzzles, and in the evening we solved them together. Of course my mother and her family used to play some chess, and she used to play her younger brother, so she had some background in chess, but she never went to a club or anything like that. So we solved all these puzzles and sent in our answers together. And they gave the prize of a book to the winner. And over the course of many months, I won so many prizes. At one point they just said take all the books you want, but don't send in anymore entries."
Anand's rise in the Indian chess world was meteoric. National level success came early for him when he won the National Sub-Junior Chess Championship with a score of 9/9 in 1983 at the age of fourteen. He became the youngest Indian to win the International Master Title at the age of fifteen, in 1984. At the age of sixteen he became the national chess champion and won that title two more times. He played games at blitz speed. In 1987, he became the first Indian to win the World Junior Chess Championship. In 1988, at the age of eighteen, he became India's first Grandmaster. He was awarded Padma Shri at the age of 18.
"Vishy", as he is sometimes called by his friends, burst upon the upper echelons of the chess scene in the early 1990s, winning such tournaments as Reggio Emilia 1991 (ahead of Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov). Playing at such a high level did not slow him down either, and he continued to play games at blitz speed.
In the World Chess Championship 1993 cycle Anand qualified for his first Candidates Tournament, winning his first match but narrowly losing his quarter-final match to Anatoly Karpov.
In 1994-95 Anand and Gata Kamsky dominated the qualifying cycles for the rival FIDE and PCA world championships. In the FIDE cycle (FIDE World Chess Championship 1996), Anand lost his quarter-final match to Kamsky after leading early. Kamsky went on to make championship match against Karpov.
In the 1995 PCA cycle, Anand won matches against Oleg Romanishin and Michael Adams without a loss, then avenged his FIDE loss by defeating Gata Kamsky in the Candidates final. In 1995, he played the PCA World Chess Championship 1995 against Kasparov in New York City's World Trade Center. After an opening run of eight draws (a record for the opening of a world championship match), Anand won game nine with a powerful exchange sacrifice, but then lost four of the next five. He lost the match 10.5 - 7.5.
Anand has received many awards.
- Arjuna award for Outstanding Indian Sportsman in Chess in 1985
- Padma Shri, National Citizens Award and Soviet Land Nehru Award in 1987
- The inaugural Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India's highest sporting honour in the year 1991-1992.
- British Chess Federation 'Book of the Year' Award in 1998 for his book My Best Games of Chess
Padma Bhushan in 2000
- Jameo de Oro the highest honour given by the Government of Lanzarote in Spain on 25th April 2001. The award is given to illustrious personalities with extraordinary achievements.
- Chess Oscar (1997, 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2007)
- Sportstar Millennium Award in 1998, from India's premier Sports magazine for being the sportperson of the millennium
- Padma Vibhushan in 2007