Chess has a limited audience. Many don’t even consider it to be a sport as there isn’t any physical movement involved. But in reality, it is one of the most tiring sports where two players battle against each other without saying a word. Unlike football or cricket – where there is a possibility of a physical or a verbal brawl, chess is unique because the winner demolishes his opponent and leaves him in tatters without making any physical contact whatsoever. Norwegian Magnus Carlsen did something similar to Viswanathan Anand to emerge as the new king of chess at the 2013 World Chess Championship in Chennai.
Viswanathan Anand – the five-time World Champion had no answer to his opponents’ unique ability to soak the pressure and it wasn’t just the Indian veteran who became the victim of Carlsen’s incredible play. In 2004, Magnus who was just 13 then, stunned Garry Kasporov – whom many believe to be the best player of all times – by playing out a draw. Carlsen was dominating the proceedings in that game and Kasparov somehow managed to escape with a draw.
When you watch the video of the match on YouTube, you are left gobsmacked as you see a teenager up against a phenomenal chess player, and the latter’s expressions tell you the entire story. While Kasparov takes enough time to think about his moves, Carlsen who gets bored is seen roaming around. Kasparov later confessed that it was a tough match and he was on the verge of losing but somehow managed to get himself back in the game. Since then, the Russian has coached Carlsen at times and he even congratulated him on Twitter after his win against Anand.
“Congratulations to Magnus for his victory! He continues to shatter the highest expectations with his skill and tenacity. Three cheers!,” Kasparov wrote through his account on the micro-blogging portal.
And Carlsen is unique. He can play ten games at a time, without even looking at the chess board! The Norwegian, who started playing chess just to outshine one of his elder sisters, thinks it’s all there in the brain – and his is quite extraordinary for sure.
Even though Carlsen won the World Championship title against Anand with two games remaining with a score of 6.5-3.5, he missed out on being the youngest player ever to win the title. That record still lies with Kasparov who achieved it in 1985. The Russian was 22 years, 6 months, and 28 days old while Carlsen was 22 years 11months and 25 days old when he clinched the title in Chennai.
In the run up to the title, Anand had been struggling with his form which was evident from the fact that despite being the world champion since 2007, he was ranked number eight in the world ahead of the tournament.
The World Chess Championship has been heavily dominated by players from Russia and, before that, the Soviet Union. And the 22-year-old Carlsen is only the second player from the West to become champion since World War II. Chess made the headlines when American Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky from Russia to claim the world championship title in 1972 - a game that many believe was the Match of the Century.
After Fisher, Garry Kasparov was another player who took the excitement of the game to a different level and made it extremely popular before retiring in 2005. And now that the Russian himself praises Carlsen every now and then, it is probably the Norwegian’s time to revive the sport globally.