Sunday, 3 June 2012



Sport is mostly associated physical activity, agility, strength, fitness, and perspiration. Maybe that is why most people do not follow chess as a ‘sport’. But that does not make World Chess Champion Vishwanathan Anand any less of a sportsman. In fact, I will go on to say that Vishy Anand is India’s greatest sportsperson.

Chess is an individual sport, which not many people understand, let alone follow. Watching a chess match live can be a not-so-entertaining experience unless you have above average IQ levels. And that is why it isn’t endorsed as well as the other sports, especially in India. Of course Vishy changed this, he made sure that everybody in India knew who he was and which sport he played. It would be fair to say that he put India on the world map as far as chess is concerned. A sport dominated by Russians, Anand carved his own niche and became one of the greatest Chess players of all time. Yet you won’t see Anand posters on the road or any temples built to worship him. His face doesn’t adorn any hoarding, or sells any popular products. No celebrity ever gushes about him or how handsome he is, no child says he wants to become like V Anand after he grows up and very few people idolize him. My only question is why. And the only answer I get is media.

When Anand was en route to becoming World Champion, again, at Moscow, the IPL was on in full swing in India and that was the main focus of the media. Some publications carried the headline but the articles were brief and left a lot to be desired. I understand that in order to make more money, things like IPL are given more importance in media, but with such a major achievements by an Indian, surely we could have a lot more coverage on Anand. How else will the masses be aware of such happenings if the media does not give it the place it deserves?

Recently there has been lot of talks about sport being included as a category for India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna and of course the name that has started this is Sachin Tendulkar. But personally I think that is any Indian sportsman has to be given the Bharat Ratna, it has to be Vishwanathan Anand. Anand is the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 99, in 2007 he was the first sportsperson to be awarded the PadmaVibhushan. And it is only fair that he receives the Bharat Ratna soon. I say this going out on a limb but with full conviction. And why not, considering his sheer amount of achievements. Anand was India’s first Grandmaster back in 1988. He has won the World Chess Championships five times, in 2000, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012 and has been the undisputed World Number 1 since 2007. In a sport as competitive and intensive as chess, such dominating is incredible, more so for an Indian.

To be completely honest, I do not understand chess as much I would like to. I play chess but my biggest achievement has been beating by 8-year old nephew once, after losing to him countless times. And I can’t write about chess as I can about other sports. But I wrote this piece for only one reason – to highlight how Vishy Anand has always been the unsung hero, as compared to a Sachin Tendulkar or a MS Dhoni, or sometimes even a Leander Paes. I hope to join sports media one day and I would be very disappointed if I have SRK & KKR on the front page when Anand should be there. I have only on e request of all the sports writers, even those who write in 140 characters on twitter, let us not unsing Vishy Anand. he is India’s greatest sports player.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely Anand's achievement in sports are as great, if not greater, than any other Indian sportsman's be it a cricketer or a hockey player. However sports is not just about achievements. Its also about giving joy through your achievements. The reason Anand is not sung as much as SRT or Dhoni is because his achievements while do make Indians proud, theoretically if I may add, but then again large number of them do not care about them as much as they care about say an Asia Cup or a CB series and hence do not get as much joy from his achievements as they get from winning the latter. We can not force people to chose what to go gaga about and what not neither can we blame or criticize them for their choices. What cricket does for Indians, chess does not, so obvioulsy an achievement in cricket means a lot to them than the one in chess. Anand's achievements make every Indian proud but do they make them happy is the question to be answered before giving him the "Greatest Indian Sportsman Ever" title.
    PS : I hope I did not unsing Anand because I did not intend to.