Caution blunts cool chess killer

IT IS 3.35pm on Thursday afternoon and on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center the atmosphere is thickening with suspense. Viswanathan Anand has taken almost 20 minutes pondering a single move.

"It seems to me that he is not looking too comfortable," says one of the two commentators on hand to explain each twist of the game. "This is quite a mystery", agrees the other.

The hundred-odd chess enthusiasts who have journeyed to the top of the tower to witness game seven of the Professional Chess Association world championship are hungering for a break in the pattern thus far of draws between Anand and the man he is challenging, grandmaster Garry Kasparov. Most of all, they want to know what Anand, widely known as Vishy, is up to. When his move finally comes it is unspectacular and this game, too, ends in a draw.

Viswanathan, a boyish 25-year-old from India, has been intriguing the experts since the best-of-20 match began on 11 September. As he was rising through the ranks of chess stardom, he earned a reputation for rapid-fire play and was tagged with the nickname the "Lightening Kid". In New York, though, he has exhibited a new caution. "It's very messy," he conceded to journalists after one of last week's drawn games. "If I try to win too much I could lose."

As quiet-spoken and reserved as Russia's Kasparov, 32, is flamboyant, Anand was born in Madras, the son of a retired railway engineer. It was his mother who taught him to play the game of chess when he was just six. When he was 13, he became the Indian junior champion and at 17, in 1987, he attracted international attention as world junior champion. He defeated Britain's Michael Adams to earn the right to challenge Kasparov.

Not surprisingly, Anand has become one of India's best-loved sporting heroes. Though chess was first invented in India two millennia ago, it has produced few champions of world standing. So far, though, the fame seems not to have effected his personality, marked by unusual calm and humility. He believes that the secret of a healthy mind - and nimbleness at the board - is a healthy body. He is a vegetarian who does not drink or smoke.

The humility was evident in a conversation he had with the US grandmaster, Patrick Wolff. "He said to me recently that he was glad he made the decision to go into chess, and I almost fell off my chair. It was as if Einstein had said he was glad he'd decided to into physics because he was enjoying himself," Wolff confided to the New York Times. "It's the kind of comment that Kasparov would never make."

Experts agree though that beneath the lamblike exterior is a brutal chess player who knows how and when to drive the knife into his opposition.

Up here though we are straining to see a glint of his blade.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'