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In Black And White: How Chess Gave Viswanathan Anand Confidence And A Passport Before Praggnanandhaa and D. Gukesh took over our news feeds, Indian Chess was known by one name- Viswanathan Anand.

By Kabir Singh Bhandari

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Wolfgang Jekel on Wikimedia Commons

Before Praggnanandhaa and D. Gukesh took over our news feeds, Indian Chess was known by one name- Viswanathan Anand. Learning the game from his mother, Anand had started playing Chess at the age of six. By the age of 15, he had become an International Master after winning the 1984 Asian Junior Championship. And it was in 1988 when he won the coveted Gran Master title. In a recent fireside chat, Anand spoke about his life in the limelight, Chess and how it changed him.

"I got self-confidence after I became a strong chess player. I didn't have coaches at all, and Chess is the way I started travelling. And learnt about many other things in life. That was the pathway," Anand said at ReImagine, the event by Bombay Chartered Accountants' Society.

Anand narrated an interesting instance when someone from the press got in touch with his school principal to interview him. It was his first or second interview, and when asked whether he would like to be interviewed, he told them 'sure you can come to my parents place at this time or this day. And my mother was quite shocked. She said you told them that!"

But what advice would he give to a 16-year-old Vishwanath Anand?

"I think it would be very nice to be that innocent again, but at the same time I would point out some obvious mistakes. Don't be too keen to make to become a friend of that person. Just be a bit more relaxed. Most of the advice I would give to myself when I was young on the moments I regret from them, along the lines of wanting something too bad," Anand said to the moderator, CA Nandita Parekh.

"I transcended the national stage when I became a Grand Master and I became a World Junior Champion. Both of those things already were path breaking because no one from Asia had ever been World Junior Champion and no one from India had been a Grand Master. So I had a beautiful situation where I could strive for almost anything and whatever I did would be the first time automatically. But I didn't feel too much pressure in doing it. Of course a lot of setbacks and blows happen, but for me it was frankly a very nice situation because I had a blank slate to work on," Anand said about venturing into the global stage.

The author can be reached at and

Kabir Singh Bhandari

Former Senior Assistant Editor

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