Viswanathan Anand

by admin on Apr 22, 2020

Anand at the World Rapid Championship in Riyadh

India's Number 1 Chess Grandmaster, yet one of the most humble human beings. To have been playing competitive chess for more than 40 years is a feat in itself. Affectionately, named "Vishy" by fans, he is a role model for the future generation of grandmasters.

Baby Steps

Viswanathan Anand was born to Krishnamurthy Viswanathan and Susheela on the 11th of December 1969 in the small town of Mayiladuthurai Little did they know that young Vishy would one day be the most feared opponent in the ancient game of Chess.

Anand, truly a momma's boy at heart

His father, Krishnamurthy Viswanathan was employed with the Southern Railways at the time as an engineer, while his mother, Sushila was a housewife. A chess aficionado herself, she was the one who introduced young Vishy to the game of Chess. Right after his birth, the family moved from the small town of Mayiladuthurai to the capital, Madras. This gave young Vishy a lot of exposure and at the nimble age of 6, he picked up the game of chess. The Tal Chess Club in Chennai, which was established by the Russian Cultural Centre ingrained a competitive spirit in the young boy. He quickly grasped the importance of speed and efficacy to better his tactics.

Young Anand engaging in a game of chess with his mother
Young Anand engaging in a game of chess with his mother

New ground

In 1978, Anand's father, who at that time was the Chief Mechanical Engineer in the Southern Railways had been assigned a posting in the Philippines at the Philippine National Railways. Having relocated the family there, it was Anand's mother who insisted that he continue his sporting brilliance there as well. She made sure that he attended chess camps regularly.

The Philippines was witnessed a chess boom in 1978 due to the World Championships. Arriving a month after it ended, they visited the playing hall where Karpov beat Korchnoi. Subconsciously, Anand might have taken a liking for that place. Coincidentally, it was in that very same hall that Anand created history by winning the World Juniors Championship.

Chess Today was a TV program that aired in the Philippines at the time that discussed popular and effective chess strategies employed by the masters of the game. They would have a contest each day and the winner of the contest would be announced in the episode on the following day. In addition to that, the winner of the contest would receive a book on chess. This was one of the ways Anand stocked up on reading material in a land where he had limited access to resources.

Back to Madras


Anand returned to Madras in the 1980s. He continued playing at the chess clubs in Madras where he would steadily build his reputation as a feared tactician. In 1984, Anand would go on to win the Asian Junior Championships held in Coimbatore. Later, he would go on to win the Asian Junior Championships in Hong Kong the following year as well thus earning the title of International Master (IM). He would be the youngest person to receive this title in the history of the game. It was quite clear to many that this was only the beginning of his achievements.

"In a way, you can say that it is Chennai which helped me to discover chess. The Tal Club was a hub of activity then and the atmosphere used to be really charged. We were all basically amateurs and would play these blitz games on Sunday. The winner stayed and the loser had to stand in line. That is the main reason behind my speedy play."
Anand after winning the Asian Junior Championships in Hong Kong

Grandmaster (GM) Viswanathan Anand

In 1987, he became the first Indian to win the World Junior Chess Championship. In 1988, at the age of 18, he became India's first Grandmaster by winning the Shakti Finance International chess tournament held in Coimbatore, India. From then, it was just a long road of hardwork and determination to be the best. To be the best and do it humbly!

Stats about GM Vishy's games
Stats about Vishy's games

Awards won by Vishy

1987 He received a “Padma shri” at the age of 18
1985 Government of India awarded him “Arjuna Award”
1987 He received “Kala Praveena” award from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad
1988 He received “Kala Praveena” award from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad
1992 He won Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award
1995 He won K K Birla award as person of the year
1997 He won Chess Oscar award for best chess player of 1997
1998 British Chess Fedration Book of the Year award was presented to him for “Vishy Anand – My Best Games of Chess”
1998 Won best Chess Oscar award for best player of 1998 
1998 He won Sportstar Millenium award by Indias premier Sports Magzine
2000 He was awarded Padma Bhushan for being the first Asian to secure the World Championship 
2003 Chess Oscar for best player of 2003
2004 Chess Oscar for best player of 2004
2007 Chess Oscar for best player of 2007
2007 Sportsperson of the year by CNN IBN
2008 He received a Padma Bhushan from Indian Government for securing No.1 world ranking and World Championship Title
2008 NDTV Indian awarded him as a sportsperson of the year
2011 Received a Global Strategist Award By NASSCOM
2012 Vishy received Order of Friendship award from Russia