Chess Wizard Teaches You How to Move 'Live Pieces' for Entrepreneurial success The king of chess - fivetimes world champion - Vishwanathan Anand shares what made him a grandmaster - patience, determination hardwork and learning from mistakes.

By Punita Sabharwal

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For Vishwanathan Anand age is just a number. Many thought he would retire but the man has no plans to call it a day. Not yet. While others might rely on various tactics to win the game of chess, Anand remains calm and composed to be on top. It is his ability to remain sanguine in difficult situations that helps him emerge triumphant. Anand is considered one of the finest grandmasters of the modern era. His journey to greatness is an inspiring tale. And one can learn a lot from him, no matter what field one aspires to be in.


After learning chess basics from his mother, Anand engulfed himself in books on chess to further hone his skills. He says that he even learned from his competitors. The chess wizard has a great many tips for mastering the art of entrepreneurship. They say being a grandmaster is not easy. More so, to be the five-time world champion. As is the case with every sport, entrepreneurship is also about winning consistently. It's more about thinking hard every time about the opportunity and play like it's the first time — making sure the years of experience just makes you thorough enough to plan your every move.


As a six-year-old you either like things or you don't. Anand got hooked to the game of chess early on in life and he started frequenting the chess clubs. His parents could see that he was really committed to chess as he spent most of his time playing the game. In the words of Anand, "I spent all my time, playing chess or reading about chess. My parents were quite supportive even before I started to take some time away from school as they could see it was clearly something that meant a lot to me."

While he was in school, Anand couldn't imagine giving up chess. It was around the same time, he decided to turn his passion into profession. Anand recalls, "By the time I finished school I was close to becoming a grandmaster. It was clear that if I become the grandmaster it could make life much easier financially. There would not be much to worry about."

What worked in his favor was also the timing. By the time he finished his schooling, he had become a grandmaster. Prior to this, when he finished tenth standard, he had become a national chess champion. "Had the national championship or grandmaster come a year or two year later, I would have become anxious. But the timing worked in my favor," say the 48-year-old chess wizard. Had it not been for these positive signs early in his career, things might have taken a different direction. Anand's approach to the game of chess is akin to solving a mystery. He says, "The thing about chess is that it engages your attention. It feels like you are solving a mystery."


Apart from loving the game Anand understood that the work you put in determines your reward. In chess if you don't work you will taper-off from the scene quickly and same goes for entrepreneurship. Anand says, "Chess trains you. The feedback is immediate. If you don't work or put in the hardwork very soon the results would crash. You get into the habit of working. So the training was quite natural."


Generally, most of what you learn in life is a sum of mistakes you make. And sometimes, defeats teach you more than victories. The same has been the case with Anand. "What works the best for me is recalling certain painful moments because you never forget the lesson. And the reason is if something is painful enough you will not forget the lesson," says the mastermind of chess.

Talking about certain mistakes, he says, "One of the typical mistakes which you can make when you are very excited you want the game to be over quickly. Because you are already mentally thinking that it is over. In my childhood and later certain painful losses happened because at the last moment I forgot to check everything carefully. I got carried away thinking that the position is already won. And suddenly you lose the game."

Apart from learning from his own mistakes, Anand has also learned a lot by observing his fellow players' game tactics. "You start studying games of certain players till you master it," he adds. In entrepreneurship too, one has to look at other successful entrepreneurs to see what they are doing right, and learn from it.

To win his maiden world championship, Anand had to wait for 10 years and he only managed to prevail after three failed attempts. He says, patience is the key. "Something that you have worked for a long time, when finally gets accomplished definitely makes you feel great."

Times have changed, learning has gone digital and many young grandmasters have come to the fore in recent times. Does it bother Anand? "For me the most important thing is that the game continues to fascinate me. The world seems to believe that chess has started to bore me but as long as I find new things to learn, new things to do, it doesn't become a problem," he promptly replies.

And he is always learning new methods to keep himself motivated. "As long as you have the ability to question the old ways of doing things, and learn new things, there won't be any dearth of motivation," Anand explains.

(This article was first published in the November issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)

Punita Sabharwal

Entrepreneur Staff

Deputy Editor, Entrepreneur India Magazine

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