“No point playing chess like this,” Viswanathan Anand hints at retirement
Even the world’s best can have the jitters.
by Sarthak Sharma
What’s the story?
At the Leuven leg of the Grand Chess tour, India’s number one chess player Viswanathan Anand may have finally dropped a hint of his inevitable retirement.
“I think I was playing mental. I think I shouldn’t bother playing like this. It makes no sense, there’s no point playing chess like this,” said Anand in an interview with grandmaster Maurice Ashley following the disappointing display. Anand ended up finishing 8th in a 10-man competition of the world’s elite chess players. A final score of 8.0/18 did little to boost spirits around the Indian contingent.
In case you didn’t know…
Viswanathan Anand has been one of the most successful sportsmen in the country, notching up world championships through the past three decades and bringing India glory in chess like we had never seen before. His incredible efforts have seen him win the prestigious Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan national honours for his impeccable achievements in the sport. He received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the highest honour in sports, to round off a truly sensational career.
His numerous achievements around the world have earned him critical acclaim and Anand has become a stalwart in the field of chess, paving the way for the next generation of chess players from India, aiming to emulate the Indian icon.
The heart of the matter
Viswanathan Anand suffered uncharacteristic slip ups in the recently concluded tournament, pretty much throwing away won matches and letting his opponents get into his head. The mental pressure of carrying the hopes of a nation might just have become too much to handle for the Tamilian superstar, who has often come out of adversity with flying colours in the past.
Talks of retirement have surfaced before, with Anand quashing all rumours with stunning performances on the chess table and verbally rubbishing any such claims made by reporters. His 2014 Candidates tournament triumph over Magnus Carlsen shortly after losing to the latter at an earlier event solidified Anand as one of the greatest to ever play the mind game of Chess. His ability to soak up pressure and come out a winner has long been considered an art and as things stand, Vishy could possibly do the same again.
It is interesting that for the first time ever, Anand has himself acknowledged his game suffered on a mental level which is generally bread and butter for the chess maestro. While it may have been the frustration talking, there is no doubt that questions of retirement will once again rankle India’s true sporting greats.
If he decides to hang up his boots, it will be a sad day in Indian sport, as he has paved the way for chess to take off in the country like never before, making India a superpower in the game of chess.
Anand’s sheer persistence and never say die attitude is astonishing and that can be seen by his calm nature while playing his favourite game. His mind has hardly ever wavered, and his performances have become an inspiration for youngsters willing to attempt the same.
India now has 47 grandmasters on the International stage, the first one being Anand himself. At a time when hardly anyone knew about chess in India, Anand elevated the game like never before en route to becoming the world’s best in the field, and making India beam with pride.