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Viswanathan Anand
Chess Player Profile

(June 2008) Viswanathan Anand was born 11 December 1969, in Madras, India (now known as Chennai).

Early accomplishments: Anand learned to play chess at age six from his mother. A few years later the family moved to Manila where, as Anand put it, he 'got caught up in the Philippines chess fever resulting from the 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship match'.

In 1983, back in India, Anand won the national Under-16 and Under-19 titles, and qualified for the 1984 National Championship, where he finished fourth. That same year he won the Asian Junior Championship, which he repeated a year later. In 1985 he earned the IM title; in 1986 he won the Indian National Championship; and in 1987 he won the World Junior Championship. At the end of that year he became the world's youngest GM and was awarded the title in April 1988.

World Championships:

In July 1990, Anand participated in the Manila Interzonal, where he qualified for the Candidates. After winning the preliminary match against Dreev (+4-1=1), he lost the quarterfinal match to Karpov (+1-2=5). Karpov went on to lose the semifinal match to Short, setting the stage for the World Championship schism in 1993.

Anand participated in both the FIDE and PCA qualification cycles. He was lucky to qualify from the 1993 FIDE Interzonal at Biel, and after beating Yusupov in the Candidates quarterfinal match (+3-1=3), he lost to Kamsky in the semifinal playoff (+2-2=4 / +0-2=0).

Anand fared better on the PCA side. He tied for first with Adams at the 1993 Groningen qualifying tournament, then went on to beat Romanishin (+3-3=4), Adams (+4-0=3), and Kamsky (+3-1=7) in the quarterfinal, semifinal, and final Candidates matches. In 1995 he lost to Kasparov (+1-4=13) in the only PCA World Championship match ever held.

Anand played in the first FIDE World Championship knockout tournament, December 1997, in Groningen, beating Adams in the sudden death phase of the final match, after drawing all eight games in the first three phases. Tired from the seven round knockout marathon, he faced Karpov only three days later in a title match, where Karpov had been seeded directly -- and unfairly according to many observers -- into the match. After playing the standard games to a tie (+2-2=2), Anand lost the first two rapidplay tiebreak games, thereby losing the title to Karpov.

Early in 1998, well after the collapse of the PCA, Anand was offered a non-FIDE title match by Kasparov, but declined to play because of contractual obligations to FIDE. After the collapse of Kasparov's other attempts to arrange a match, Anand received a second offer for a match with Kasparov in 1999, which he eventually accepted. He skipped the 1999 FIDE World Championship knockout in Las Vegas to avoid a contract conflict with FIDE, but the match with Kasparov failed to find a sponsor and never took place. Early in 2000, Anand was offered yet another non-FIDE title match with Kasparov. This time he declined the offer, which passed to Kramnik, who beat Kasparov in November in London.

Anand continued to play in FIDE World Championship knockouts. He won the FIDE title in 2000 when the first six rounds were held on his home turf in New Delhi, then beat Shirov (+3-0=1) in the final at Tehran to become World Champion. In 2001 at Moscow he was elminated by Ivanchuk (+0-1=3) in the semifinal round, and declined to play in 2004 at Tripoli.

Meanwhile, the title unification process had begun in May 2002 at Prague, but Anand was not included in the plans. After several failed efforts by FIDE to arrange a match between FIDE's champion and Kasparov, Kasparov quit chess, and Anand finally got the chance to play for the FIDE title in September 2005, at a tournament San Luis, Argentina, where he finished 1.5 points behind Topalov. After Topalov lost the unification match to Kramnik in 2006, the first unified title tournament was held in 2007. Anand won, a point ahead of Kramnik and Gelfand, to become the World Champion.

Important tournaments: In addition to his many World Championship events, Anand is a frequent winner of the world's strongest non-title tournaments. His first important win was at Reggio Emilia in 1991, ahead of Karpov and Kasparov. he won the annual Corus tournament four times (1998, 2003, 2004, 2006), and the annual Linares tournament three times (1998, 2007, 2008). He has been a world top-10 player since 1992 and, since Kasparov's retirement, has traded the no.1 position with his closest rivals.

Awards: Anand has won the chess Oscar five times Chess Oscar in (1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2007). A national hero in his country of birth, he was awarded India's second highest civilian award, the 'Padma Vibhushan', in 2008.

Playing style: Since first appearing on the international chess scene in the late 1980s, Anand has maintained a reputation as a lightning fast player. He is always a favorite to win any event at a fast time control. Playing White, he usually starts 1.e4. Playing Black his favorite answers to 1.e4 are 1...c5 and 1...e5. Against 1.d4, he is equally likely to head for 1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 and 1...d5. He works hard at maintaining his top ranking and was an early adopter of computer technology. If he has any faults at all, it is his 'live and let live' philosophy, where he often accepts awkward organizational circumstances that other players would never accept.