India’s first IM Manuel Aaron is proud that his one-time student Vishy Anand will be playing his World Championship against Magnus Carlsen in Chennai where the maestro learnt the nuances of the game.
“When I first saw Anand at the Tal Chess Club he appeared to be a slim kid with a squeaky voice with a flair for chess. He was attentive, obedient, regular at the classes (chess) and always had the inclination to learn more,” said Aaron.
“I used to take classes at Nungambakkam in the late 70s and Anand used to attend regularly. He used to bombard me with questions on moves and at times I found it difficult to answer him,” added Manuel.
Anand was first noticed at the blitz games at Tal Club where the speed with which he played earned him the sobriquet of ‘Lightning Kid’. “We used to have five-minute games there and the loser would have to vacate his seat. Anand would win all the games and sit through the night. The speed with which he used to win earned him the title ‘Lightning kid’,” recalled Aaron.
After the Tal Club experience for a brief period Anand lived in Philippines where his father was working. The shift did not affect his game for he saw an opportunity in Philippines and improved his game. “Anand took advantage of chess boom in the Philippines. He won prizes by solving chess problems aired in a daily half-hour programme on television,” he recollected.
Aaron also narrated his embarrassment of losing to Anand twice where the 13-year-old bounced back from a losing position. “Anand defeated me twice. On both the occasions I was in a strong position. Somehow Anand mustered courage and outsmarted me. The second win was in the national team chess championship where Anand, despite being down with fever, outsmarted me in the middle game,” narrated Aaron.
From then on, step by step he won all the tournaments (Junior World title and so on), became India’s first GM and finally the World crown.
“I enjoyed his duels with the two big ‘K’s. Anand won the Reggio Emilia Super Grandmaster Tournament in Italy defeating Gary Kasparov, where all the Russians took part. Anand defeated Kasparov again in the Credit Suisse Masters Rapid Chess Tournament. By doing so, Anand proved that he can match the best in the world,” complimented Aaron.
Another important trait in Anand is that he takes success and failure in equitable measure. This brings about balance to his game and approach to life.
“When Anand lost to Kasparov at the World Trade Centre, New York in the World Championship I was a bit worried as there have been players in the past like Boris Spassky who went into a shell after a big loss. But Anand was his jovial self at the prize distribution ceremony and was seen admiring the zeros in his cheque. This positive attitude has enabled Anand to be a top player for such a long time,” said Aaron.