Anand's lone magical moment

The Indian ace retained his world title but struggled in other events

A World Championship title is every sportsperson’s aspiration and lifetime dream, one for which he strives and sacrifices unhesitatingly. The year 2012 witnessed Viswanathan Anand achieving and experiencing this euphoria for a fantastic fifth time, in a game that has grown stronger since his dream debut on the international scene more than two decades ago.

Viswanathan Anand edged Boris Gelfand to defend his world title.Showcasing his skills, temperament and grit, Anand joined the likes of Garry Kasparov, Emmanuel Laskar, Mikhail Botvinnik who have won the chess crown on five or more occasions.

In fact, it was a hat-trick of sorts for the 43-year-old Anand as he won his third straight Classical World title by defeating Boris Gelfand of Israel in Moscow, the Mecca of chess. Anand had earlier won the title in the knock-out format in 2000 and in tournament format at Mexico in 2007.

At Moscow, the Indian was stretched to the tie-breaks where he clinched the title. This was definitely great stuff by the Indian, especially considering the fact that in the span of just five years he has successfully won four titles. In the era of Botvinnik, Laskar and Kasparov, world title contests were held every four years, giving plenty of time for the champion to rest, relax and prepare.

Anand however was totally out of form in the two events he contested after winning the title, the Bilbao Grand Slam Final and the London Chess Classic. Anand however is slated to participate in seven events next year before his title defence tentatively scheduled sometime in September/October next year.

Magnus Carlsen meanwhile scripted his own magnum opus, dominating other chess tournaments and ratings to remain the undisputed World No 1 by a huge margin. So magnificent were Carlsen’s performances this year, especially at Bilbao and London that the 22-year-old Norwegian eclipsed Kasparov’s 13-year-old record of being the highest-rated player ever in the history of chess. Of course on an official note, this will be reflected in the new rating list to be announced on the first day of 2013 but then, that is a mere formality.

Indian chess had other reasons to rejoice as well, with Abhijeet Gupta winning an individual silver medal at the Chess Olympiad while Tania Sachdev bagged a bronze in the women’s section. However, the team, without the services of Anand, failed to live up to expectations.

This year, the World Blind Chess Olympiad was staged in India and Kishan Gangolli of Karnataka bagged an individual gold. The Indian team performed magnificently but was a trifle unfortunate to miss the bronze by a whisker.

On the women’s front, it was disappointing to watch Koneru Humpy, a strong contender for the title, being knocked out in the second round of the Women’s World Championship. For that matter even defending champion, the seemingly invincible Yifan Hou, also exited in the second round. However D Harika brought some cheer to the Indian camp by reaching the final four but was knocked out in the semi-final. Anna Ushenina went on to win the title by defeating former champion Alntoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria.

Medals continued to rain for India at the Asian and world level in age categories, once again promising that there is plenty of known and hidden talent eager to tread on the trail blazed by Anand.

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