(The above picture was taken at Linares in 2007)
Thinking that ‘all roads would lead to GRT’ I went in early to register for the event but I was really surprised. Even at 6:30 pm, when it was about to start, a few rows were empty whereas I expected a full-house by 5:30 pm. We do not know to respect and acknowledge our Champions!
(A friend jocularly remarked that if Actress Sneha was talking on her learnings as a model, there would have been a near riot outside the hall from angry people demanding entry)
When the Chairman of the session Shri Arun Bewoor of IFF read a brief resume of Anand, I was literally floored and felt really ashamed that I knew very little of Anand’s accomplishments beyond his world title. In fact, Anand had won several tournaments both in Classical and Rapid Chess many many times in a row. So he has kept India’s flag high in so many places and so consistently and continues to remain an unsung hero.
Back to the event! After a glowing introduction, Vishy rose to speak about his Chess Life spanning almost 30 years (from his 7th year to his 37h) and quickly led the audience through his triumphs and occasional defeats.
Anand, profusely sweating probably on account of the glare of the TV lighting, was watched by his parents, wife and in-laws, seated in the first and second rows. I thought it quite strange that a newly crowned World Champion said nothing of others (including his mother, wife, his past and current trainers, coaches etc) who had contributed to his phenomenal success, especially in front of the home audience. And to be really fair to him, he did not crib at all about the lack of attention to himself and his sport in India. After the speech, he did a television interview!
A remark of his, left a lasting impact on me. (I am going to write a separate post on the Q&A that followed his speech)
Quote “I struggled for 2 years to gain my Grand Master norms and slipped narrowly each time. And then I gave up the chase and started focussing on my studies. When I resumed my chess playing, it was for the enjoyment of the game than for any particular goal. Immediately thereafter I became the Junior World Champion and before the end of the year, I got my GM norms and became one” Unquote (almost verbatim).