New Delhi: He is known to be composure personified even under immense pressure and Viswanathan Anand, who is gearing up to defend his world title next month, gave ample proof of it in the 2008 edition against Vladimir Kramnik when he outwitted the celebrated Russian to clinch his third World Championship.
Although he had won two world titles in knockout and tournament formats, Anand still had to win the world championship in a match.
The opportunity came after he won the championship in a tournament format in 2007 at Mexico City, setting the stage for a much-awaited clash against
Vladimir Kramnik of Russia at Bonn in 2008.
The big match was designed to give Kramnik a second chance to win the World Championship he had unceremoniously lost in the preceding match tournament.
As part of the contract signed to reunite the chess world, Kramnik was assured of this match against the winner of Mexico match-tournament convincingly won by Anand.
More than the Mexico victory, that put Anand firmly on the top of chess world, some were already looking at the match in Bonn a year before it was to happen.
As early as the final press conference at Mexico a question popped up at Anand, "Are you ready for your match with Kramnik?"
"I`ve just won the world title, can you give me five minutes?" replied Anand.
Although a World champion in Knockout and Round-Robin format in 2000 and 2007 respectively, Anand had yet to win a World Championship in match format.
One-on-one battles are more than chess itself. They are often a clash of personalities and nerves.
Many believed Kramnik would be much better in matches as he had beaten the `invincible Gary Kasparov` in 2000 in the Braingames World Championship clash and had followed it with another title triumph over Peter Leko of Hungary in 2004 before beating Bulgarian Veselin Topalov in 2006.
Anand, on the other hand, had never won the final match till then. In 1991, he lost to Anatoly Karpov of Russia in the quarterfinals, in 1995 the Indian went down to Kasparov and then in 1998 again he lost to Karpov.
The last two losses came in the final matches.
The Chess World had been split when Kasparov and Kramnik did not take part in the knockout World Championships.
FIDE succeeded in the reunification process but by then Kasparov had announced his retirement, leaving Kramnik as the big fish to join the fray.
It started with a match against Topalov in 2006 at Elista in which Kramnik came up triumphant against all odds.
Winning the first two games, Kramnik took a huge 2-0 lead in the 12-game match and then Silvio Danailov, Topalov`s manager, threw a salvo at the Russian saying his frequent visits to the toilet were suspicious.
The appeals committee agreed to have a common toilet for both players but Kramnik refused to play. What followed was huge drama during which Kramnik did not come for the fifth game and forfeited.
When the match continued, Kramnik`s two-point lead became 3-2 and he finally won the match only in tiebreaker.
Kramnik showcased steely nerves under huge pressure. And as part of the reunification process he was awarded the match against Anand even though he had finished second in Mexico.
The match at Bonn started with a couple of draws and then Anand simply rolled over Kramnik winning the third, fifth and the sixth game to take a three points lead.
A loss in the 10th game did not take away anything as Anand sealed the victory by drawing the 11th game to win by 6.5-4.5 margin.
"Kramnik is very tough in matches simply because he does not lose very much. In tournaments, there is a difference. If you beat others and you have a dynamic style, you go ahead," Anand had said.
"But in a match, if you can`t beat Kramnik, you are stuck with him. So in that sense, beating him in a match is a big achievement."
The world champion had passed the toughest challenge in style. He had proved his detractors wrong and had taken on a new journey that would see him winning the next two matches as well.