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Everest moment in chess: ‘I won because I won’

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  • Published 31.05.12

Moscow, May 30: George Mallory may or may not have uttered the most famous three words in mountaineering — “because it’s there” — when he explained his desire to climb Mount Everest.

Today, Viswanathan Anand delivered what could turn out to be the most gracious five words ever to escape the lips of someone who has made it a habit of conquering the world: “I won because I won.”

Anand was speaking soon after defeating Boris Gelfand of Israel 2.5-1.5 in rapid chess tie-breaks at Moscow to win the world chess championship for the fifth time in his career.

Speaking about the rapid tie-breaks, Anand said that there was very little separating him and Gelfand in terms of playing strength and it was a question of holding one’s nerves, which he did better than the challenger.

“It could have gone either way, as the games were well fought. I won because I won,” said Anand.

Such humility and distaste for hyperbole have defined Anand’s astounding ascent on the world firmament as he emerged over the years as a role model for decorum and good conduct.

After the hostile air that hung around the Sofia match in 2010, the current one was contested in a friendly atmosphere between Anand and Gelfand, who were on visibly amicable terms with each other throughout the match.

The rapid tie-breaks were necessitated after games under classic time control ended in a tie at 6-6. The faster tie-breaks involved games with 25 minutes per player, with 10 seconds added after each move.

This is the fourth successive world championship victory for the 42-year-old Anand. Prior to the current series of triumphs, Anand had won the knockout FIDE world championship at Delhi and Tehran in 2000.

Anand thus is the only player in the history of chess to have won the world championship in all the formats — knockout, round-robin tournament and individual matches.

He will be the world champion till his next title defence, which will make him the world champion for a cumulative nine years now (2000-2002 and 2007-2014). Anand will be richer by $1.40 million (Rs 7.7 crore) with this victory while Gelfand takes home $1.15 million (Rs 6.33 crore).

Anand has been involved in the fight for the world championship since 1991, when he lost the candidates quarterfinals to the Russian Anatoly Karpov. Thus, it makes him a world title contender for 21 years — an amazing case of longevity in professional sports.

His first attempt at the world champion crown was in 1995, when he lost to the Russian Garry Kasparov 10.5-7.5 in the PCA world championship match.

On the latest match, Anand said that this was the toughest in terms of the opponent’s strength of play. “I did not get any chances to defeat him. When I lost the seventh game, I felt deeply that I had blown it,” Anand said.

He picked out the eighth game, which he won and levelled the scores immediately, as the turning point.

Anand had a team of seconds, who formed part of his team assisting him during the world championship, which consisted of Suryasekhar Ganguly (India), Radek Wojtaszek (Poland), Peter Heine Nielsen (Denmark) and Rustam Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan).

“Anand once again proved himself to be the best sportsperson from India,” Ganguly told PTI.

Anand praised Gelfand’s steady play without easy mistakes, which rarely gave him chances to score a victory.

Earlier, asked about Anand’s strength in quicker time controls, Gelfand had said the defending champion was a strong player in all the formats of the game.