Viswanathan Anand is a household name in Chennai. He is a former world chess champion and is an Indian chess grandmaster. In fact, Anand is a five-time world chess champion.
As a child, Viswanathan Anand was known for his amazing playing speed and soon earned the title 'lightning kid' at the beginning of his career in the 1980s and later on sometimes known as the 'Tiger of Madras’. From then on, his game developed rapidly, world over, many still consider him as one of the greatest rapid chess players of his generation. In fact, Anand was the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 1991-92, which is considered the highest sporting honor. He was also the first sportsperson to receive the Padma Vibhushan, which is India’s second highest civilian award.
Viswanathan Anand started playing chess from the age of 6. His mother, who was a chess aficionado, was his first chess teacher. So, it's no surprise that his achievements began as early as the age of 14. At the age of 16, he became the national chess champion, which he won two more times after that. He started crossing iconic milestones in his career after he became the first Indian to win the World Junior Chess Championship in 1987. At the tender age of 18, he won the Padma Shri.
How did Viswanathan Anand achieve so much at such a young age?
In his book, 'Winning lessons from a Champion's life, Viswanathan Anand says;
“Talent is a lot like a plant. When it’s watered with hard work, it grows, branches out and blooms. Deprived of nourishment, the plant simply withers away. With hard work, talent gains in depth and scope, and uncovers abilities that were earlier unexplored. Talent and hard work, therefore, aren’t conflicting forces orbiting in separate galaxies; they are complementary to each other and provide one another with sustenance.”
― Viswanathan Anand, Mind Master: Winning Lessons from a Champion's Life
One of his secrets to success is hard work. Without hard work, even the most talented person cannot be successful. When nurturing a skill, practice is important, in fact it is compulsory. In his book 'Outliers: The Story of Success', Malcolm Gladwell states that 'in order to achieve world-class expertise in any skill is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing, for a total of 10,000 hours.'
Anand, has often credited his spirituality that helped him achieve a 'heightened state of mind', this helped him focus better while playing chess. He also has earned himself a very good reputation among his peers for his conduct and his focus on the game during tournaments. His list of achievements are numerous and outstanding. Many of his iconic matches have gone down in history. He has written 3 books about his life around chess and his achievements. If you want to learn more about Viswanathan Anand and how to be like him, you must try and read those books.
So, what do you do to be like Viswanathan Anand?
work hard (practice, practice and practice)
Don't give up
"Chess is like a language, the top players are very fluent at it. Talent can be developed scientifically but you have find first what you are good at.'' - Viswanathan Anand
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