Vishy Anand – A Popular World Chess Champion

From 2007 until 2022, we’ve had two World Chess Champions – Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand. Despite losing the title of world chess champion in 2013, Vishy Anand remains one of the strongest players in competitive chess today.

In fact, entering 2023, Vishy Anand is ranked number 9 in the world, a ranking many much younger chess players would love to have, never mind players in their fifties.

Well-liked and respected by almost all of his contemporaries, Vishy Anand is living proof that you can be nice and do well in a competitive setting.

A strong work ethic and the willingness to prepare ahead for his opponents have served Vishy Anand well. When you are well-prepared, it helps you against any opponent, including Magnus Carlsen, as this video from GM Balogh’s Master Method shows:

Vishy Anand Becomes World Chess Champion

In 2006 Vladimir Kramnik defeated Veselin Topalov to become the world chess champion, and reunited the title under FIDE. The match became known as Toiletgate and almost got abandoned due to differences between the two camps.

Compared to the 2006 match, the World Chess Championship Tournament in 2007 ran as smoothly as expected. There were a few incidents outside the tournament, but the double round-robin tournament between eight of the strongest players in the world went as planned.

One of Vishy Anand’s friends, Hans-Walter Schmitt, a chess tournament organizer, was involved in a fight with muggers in the streets of Mexico City. However, the FIDE representative at the tournament caused some embarrassment as well.

Zurab Azmaiparashvili got banned from the Sheraton Hotel, where the tournament occurred. Since he needed to observe the games, he received a particular route to follow when entering and leaving the hotel.

Vishy Anand began the tournament by winning four games and drawing all the others. His four wins came with the white pieces against Svidler, Morozevich, Aronian, and Grischuk.

Although a classical player in many regards Vishy Anand was not afraid to break the rules and advance the pawns in front of his king.

Evaluating a position is one of the most valuable skills you can develop as a chess player. Unless you can evaluate resulting positions, you will miss moves like 31.h4! or the earlier 29.f4.

This position is from the game between Anand and Grischuk in round seven of the World Chess Tournament.

Viswanathan Anand – Alexander Grischuk, 2007.09.20, 1-0, World Championship Tournament Round 7, Mexico City MEX

Much to his relief, Vishy Anand no longer had to explain which chess championship title he held as he did in 2000.

Anand Defends His Title in 2008

One of the conditions of the 2006 World Chess Championship match included the right for Vladimir Kramnik to challenge the 2007 World Championship Tournament winner.

Vishy Anand did not get much time to enjoy being World Chess Champion before he found himself defending the title in Germany. Seventy-four years had passed since Germany last hosted a world chess championship match – Alekhine versus Bogoljubow in 1934.

Josef Resch was responsible for staging the match through his company, Universal Event Promotion. He secured the Federal Art and Exhibition Hall in Bonn as the venue.

After the disaster in Elista in 2006, special precautions were taken to prevent cheating. The use of mobile phones in the spectator area was prohibited, a one-way curtain separated the stage and the spectators to avoid eye contact, and there was a delay in broadcasting the games.

This time delay was stopped five games into the match when newspapers complained. Some of them wanted to include the games on their websites.

In his preparation for the match, Vishy Anand played training games against Magnus Carlsen in Madrid. Anand used these games to test his surprise opening move of 1.d4.

This was an opening move Vishy Anand seldom played, and he used it in all his games with white.

A three-point lead at the halfway mark meant it would take a significant collapse from Vishy Anand to lose the title. Despite a loss in game ten, all it took was a draw in the next game for Anand to keep the title with one game remaining.

Interestingly, while playing with Black against 1.d4, Vishy Anand introduced a surprise move he’d prepared with one of his seconds, Kasimdzhanov.

Vishy Anand-Introduces-14...Bb7 sacrificing a pawn for an attack against the king.

In this position, Vishy Anand played 14…Bb7 instead of the usual 14…Ba6 or 14…b4. The move chosen by Anand sacrifices a pawn in return for an attack against the White king!

Take a look at how the game unfolded.

Vladimir Kramnik – Viswanathan Anand, 2008.10.17, 0-1 Anand – Kramnik World Championship Match Round 3, Bonn GER

Anand Topples Topalov in Their 2010 Match

Veselin Topalov’s manager, Silvio Danailov, got him seeded into the Candidates Final by threatening to sue FIDE for millions. This threat and other decisions made by Danailov would generate a lot of support for Vishy Anand.

Topalov beat Gata Kamsky in the Candidates Final in February 2009.

Thanks to help from the Turkish Chess Federation and the chess Federation of Singapore, the Bulgarian Chess Federation won the right to host the match. The match took place in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Vishy Anand was supported by his team from the match in Bonn: Nielsen, Kasimdzhanov, Ganguly, and Wojtaszek. He also received help before the match from Kasparov, Giri, and Carlsen.

Upon hearing that Anand was choosing openings similar to those he played in Elista, Vladimir Kramnik contacted Vishy Anand’s team. He shared critical variations from his match against Topalov and new ideas.

This support was not because of Veselin Topalov’s unpopularity but instead directed more against Silvio Danailov. Gary Kasparov was motivated to help Vishy Anand due to chess politics.

Topalov used Rybka 4 chess engine to prepare before and during the match. Rumors suggested the Topalov team spent a lot of money to delay the release of Rybka 4 to the public.

Whether this is true or not, it made the Anand team concerned.

Vishy Anand rented a computer cluster with the Hiarcs chess engine. Between Hiarcs and his seconds, Anand was confident he had matched his opponent’s calculating abilities.

The match’s fourth game showed us why we must consider our opponent’s threats and not play automatically. The move Topalov played is a natural move many of us would play.

Anand played 22.Ng4 to reach the position below.

Topalov played the natural 22…Rad8, but this gave Anand a chance to get a winning attack.

Viswanathan Anand – Veselin Topalov, 2010.04.28, 1-0, Anand – Topalov World Championship Match Round 4, Sofia BUL

During the fifth game of the match, before Vishy Anand made his seventeenth move, there was a power outage in Sofia. Play resumed forty minutes later, and the game ended in a draw.

The score was tied entering the last round. Thanks to Topalov’s aggressive approach Vishy Anand won the game with the black pieces and the match with a score of 6½ to 5½.

The Older Guys Show Up the Youngsters

In a time when many chess players earned titles in their teens, two players in their forties would play a world chess championship match. Vishy Anand was defending his title against Boris Gelfand in 2012.

The host city for the match was Moscow.

Before the match, Anand spent time preparing in Bad Soden with his seconds from the previous world chess championship match.

Gelfand declined Garry Kasparov’s help because he didn’t think it fair to get assistance from somebody with insights into his opponent. Garry Kasparov helped Vishy Anand in his match against Topalov.

Perhaps it was a combination of their friendship and age that ensured little or no drama in the match.

Vishy Anand and his seconds experienced some excitement before the match when they ran into some protestors opposed to the re-election of Putin. They were escorted safely back to their hotel by a special security unit.

The match began with a series of draws before Gelfand took the lead with a win in game seven. Vishy Anand immediately tied the match in the next game.

They drew the remaining four games to force a tiebreak of four rapid games. Anand got the only win in game two of the tiebreak.

Boris Gelfand – Viswanathan Anand, 2012.05.23, ½-½, Anand – Gelfand World Championship Match Round 9, Moscow RUS

In Conclusion

Despite losing the title of world chess champion to Magnus Carlsen in 2013, Vishy Anand remains one of the strongest chess players in the world today.

Anand showed us how vital preparation and an excellent support team are at the highest levels of chess.

We can undoubtedly learn a lot from the games of Vishy Anand. We can also learn a lot about being a chess professional and a nice guy.

Chess is a game that keeps evolving, and there is much we can learn from today’s top players. Think of the many new tactical blows you can learn in forty-three of the best modern games!

Thanks to expert narration from Csaba Balogh, you will improve your attacking play and deepen your understanding of many other aspects of chess, including excelling at preparation.

Now is your chance to get instant access to 15 hours of grandmaster coaching at half the regular price!

Take advantage of this opportunity to learn the secrets of modern masterpieces in “The Balogh Method.”

Also, be sure to read:

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