By Vishwanathan Anand and Susan Ninan
Growing up in 90’s in India, there were two national sports heroes; Sachin Tendulkar and Vishwanathan Anand. A lot of credit to make Chess popular in India goes to V Anand, even till today. He chartered a path that nobody travelled in India and in Asia, being many firsts… also came with many challenges.
In Mind Master, Anand bares it all. He has not projected himself as an immortal, larger than life figure. Nor he projected himself being lucky or that things kept falling in place. In fact, it was his sheer determination, preparations and hard work that turned things in his favour at times. I have read many biographies but nothing as open and emotional as this one. Blunt. Candid. Vishy opens his inner thoughts and feelings to the world.
Vishy decodes what goes inside in becoming a Champion. I was surprised to read about the kind of politics that goes on at an International level in Chess.. negotiations for tournaments is a revelation. I thought there should be standard rules, how one person can dictate the terms. Anand brings a lot of murky picture at International’s Chess in light. My ignorance may also be attributed to Cricket followership in India!
Vishy explains his becoming of World Champion, the validations he has to go through and the struggle to make believe that ‘I belonged here because I have earned it’! Once you become a champion yet if you are questioned, doubted or not respected as much – it is tough. A lot of credit is given to his seconds (something I was not aware existed in Chess), timely support from friends, constant support from his wife and influence of his mother on him and his game.
Book: I loved that each chapter ends with a short summary and learnings that every one of us can apply in life. Vishy applies his style of remembering the games ‘key positions’ in his book too! This book is of a legend and I felt at places that it fell short in drafting, arranging events as per timelines or logical flow to hook a reader and editing. Though it is presented in a way as if Vishy himself is talking but if a reader is not a Chess enthusiast or have not followed events closely, you may not be able to connect all dots. I struggled at times when stories kept jumping example from 1994 to 2008 back to 2000; all in three paragraphs.
A great read! A must to get inspired and move ahead in life!