Viswanathan Anand single-handedly sparked a chess revolution in India and inspired generations to take interest in the sport.
His road to success was never easy, however, he had several people that counselled him throughout his career. From dealing with intimidating players to bouncing back after a heavy defeat, Anand’s friends and family made sure he remained determined.
Susila Viswanathan, Anand’s mother and first mentor played an important role in making sure he participated in tournaments. Anand’s father, K. Viswanathan ensured his son travelled safely for these tournaments. Their belief in Anand at a young age was a testament to how good he was as a chess player. On his travels, Anand was accompanied by assistant Muthu, who made sure he had everything, allowing him to focus on chess.
Nieves Perea, who Anand considers his second mother, was instrumental in giving him a comfortable life in Spain. Maurice Perea was a fatherly figure who managed Anand and was instrumental in helping him train in Europe. Anand also met Elizbar Ubilava, a chess player and trainer instrumental in Anand’s initial success and mentored him to achieve his first World Chess Championship. Time spent training and winning in Europe announced him as a world-class player.
Aruna Anand, Anand’s wife, became a growing presence in his personal and professional life. She is his manager and on occasion was also a second of sorts. Anand considers her as the key to his success.
Rajendra Pawar, chairman of NIIT, is someone Anand still looks to for advice and mentorship. Their friendship – over two decades old – stems from mutual respect and their admiration towards each other.
On his journey, Anand also met several other trainers and mentors like Peter Nielsen, Rustam Kasimdhzanov , Grzegorz Gajewski, Radoslaw Wojtasek, and Surya Sekhar Ganguly - all played critical roles in sealing other World Chess Championships.
Among those that worked with him, Sandipan Chanda stands out the most. Anand, who lost his world title in 2013, made a swift comeback in 2014 to challenge for it again. A rare and great achievement, which would be impossible without Sandipan’s hard work.
So, each time Anand went against an opponent, the people around him cheered the king on, and he pushed for the checkmate. That’s the power of human potential multiplied.