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The Undisputed
No doubts: Anand is world champion

Oct. 29: When blood spilled on the board, the master of the game was not sure of his next move.

Even the unflappable, unassuming Viswanathan Anand will need some time to get used to the most cherished ‘un’ of them all — the undisputed chess champion of the world.

The winning manoeuvre fell into place “so suddenly that he was taken aback”, Anand’s wife Aruna recalled from Bonn where the bare-knuckled battle ended in a resounding victory for the Indian Grandmaster.

But the champ recovered his wits quickly to mutter: “I just did it.”

“He simply said I just did it,” Aruna told a TV channel, describing how her husband drew his last game with Russian Vladimir Kramnik and retained the title.

The margin of victory — 2 points — was a stunning feature. “Beating Kramnik by 2 points is a huge achievement,” a TV channel quoted Anand as saying.

With one more left in the 12-game battle, the 33-year-old challenger needed a win to stay in the hunt and keep his hopes alive of forcing a tie-breaker. But Anand, who won the third, fifth and sixth games before Kramnik pulled one back in the 10th, closed out the resurgent Russian with a 24-move draw.

The win seals Anand’s status as undisputed king of the 64-square battlefield because, despite his victory in Mexico last year, some commentators had questioned the validity of his title that was won in a tournament rather than in a one-to-one match.

“Everybody was tense…. The end has come beautifully. There can be no doubt now that he is a world champion,” Anand’s father Viswanathan said in Chennai.

Asked what he would like to tell Anand, he said: “A great job done, my son.”

For Anand, it was sweet Wednesday after Monday’s agony, when Kramnik — the only man to have beaten chess legend Garri Kasparov — nipped plans of an early celebration.

Just half a point — or a draw — from victory, he must have felt like another master and world-record holder, Sachin Tendulkar, did on the cricket field a fortnight back. Needing just 15 more to reach the record of the most runs in Test cricket, the little champion was back in the pavilion after a long vigil at the crease. He went on to reach the milestone in the next Test.

“The last three days were tough. I lost quite a lot of sleep,” Anand said.

Anand, 38, had won his first world championship in 2000, but the chess world had been split by Kasparov who walked out of the official body, Fide, in 1993 and formed a rebel association. The rival bodies unified in 2006, enhancing the value of the title.

“Being the undisputed world champion is a relief…. I am the absolute world champion,” Anand had said after last year’s feat. After tonight’s victory, he doesn’t need to make that assertion any more.

Anand and Kramnik will, however, share the $1.94-million (Rs 9.3 crore) prize money, according to the tournament’s rules.

Father Viswanathan said: “It was a lone battle that he had fought, and today the nation is behind him.”

Tonight, Anand will allow himself a “nice dinner” — as Aruna said — to celebrate the achievement.

But before that, Anand will have to address an unfinished job — as a son, not as a champion. “We are waiting for his call. Until a match is over, we don’t speak. That is a convention,” father Viswanathan said in Chennai.

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