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Happy birthday, Vishy!

This “Mate in Chennai”blog ends today,  December 11.12.13, on which I want to say:  Happy birthday, Vishy! I hope you have a great day in London!

“I am so used to playing chess on my birthday, it would be a bit strange to blow candles on cakes”, says Anand.

“I am so used to playing chess on my birthday, it would be a bit strange to blow candles on cakes!”

“I am so used to playing chess on my birthday, it would be a bit strange to blow candles on cakes!”

“I am so used to playing chess on my birthday, it would be a bit strange to blow candles on cakes!”

“I am so used to playing chess on my birthday, it would be a bit strange to blow candles on cakes!”

Here is a picture I took at the London Chess Classic last year.

One last thing…

One final note  at the end of this blog. During my stay in Chennai, Mr. Venkatchalam Kameswaran came to me with a big bag, and he showed me albums with clippings and pictures of Vishy’s career in his early teens.  Mr. Kameswaran (1943) is a chess trainer, journalist and India’s first international arbiter. In one of the albums I found this clipping from 1981 or 1982, because in the article is is mentioned that Anand is 12 at the time.  I had never seen this clipping before. I am pretty sure that this is where Vishy’s nickname “Lightning Kid” comes from! The article is written by Kameswaran.

And I found another clipping from 30 November 1982, in which the “Lightning Kid” strikes again!

I started this blog with a newspaper clipping from the Bad Sodener Zeitung in 2013, and I end the blog with a clipping from 1982….and so the circle is complete.

I would like to “thank you” to everybody who visited the blog. Thank you for your support and comments. Who knows, maybe there will be another “Mate in …..” one day!








After the last game in Chennai , I was able to post one more article,  but suddenly the blog went blank after a simple plug-in update. Since I had to travel home to good (c)old Germany and had other things to do, I was not able to do the necessary repair work immediately.

In this post I want to show you a number of pictures I made after the last game and the days that followed.

In the tenth game, Carlsen only needed a draw to win the world title and a lot of TV stations came to the Hyatt to make reports. I do not know why the reporter took her shoes off.

 As you can see, TV and radio stations worldwide were interested in the outcome of the match.

Your blogger had to do one more radio interview. These very friendly guys came to me after every game to ask for a statement.

This is the view from the 10th floor of the Hyatt Regency. You can see all the media people eagerly waiting for the players after the 10th game.

Vishy made it, but Magnus is still missing. Vishy and Anastasiya Karlovich discuss what to do next….

…but is was not easy for Carlsen to get to his seat!

On the next day, we had a final breakfast with the team in the presidential suite of the Hyatt. Vishy and Aruna had already packed and went home with their son Akhil. In my article “Vishy Anand plans next moves” for the Indian Express, you can read about “the morning after”.

On our way to Mammallapuram on Sunday (we had time to do some sightseeing), we were surpised to see that Anand obviousy  started a new career after the last game!

Anand’s parents, Viswanathan Iyer and Susheela  confirmed on Monday after the closing ceremony, that their son would continue to play chess…

…which was confirmed by Aruna’s parents!

After the fastest closing ceremony I had ever seen, there was an improvised 20 minute  press conference for in the press room. Susan Ninan from the “Times of India” is taking notes…

…but obviously not everybody was very excited about the final statements of the new world champion. The face of the girl in the middle speaks volumes. In the back you may spot Jon Ludvig Hammer.

Congratulations Magnus! But there is one more thing you need to do…

…sign the chess board! You may recognize the signature of Magnus, his father Henrik, Jon Ludvig Hammer and Simen Agdestein.  The other side of the board is signed by Team Anand, to be displayed in the Chess Tigers Training Center in Bad Soden.

Vishy Anand plans next moves

A few weeks ago, just before the start of the match, I was asked by the editors of “The Indian Express” to write an article about the last day of Anand’s preparations before the match started from an insiders point of view.  You can read about that article called “Computers, cashews, chocolats. Coldplay” here. On Friday, just after the 10th and last game, the editors wanted another article, this one about “The Day After”. The following piece was published on the front page of the newspaper on Sunday, 23 November.

It is not always fun to be at a press conference

Defeated, drained but Viswanathan Anand plans next moves

For those of us in Team Vishy, it was difficult to find words of comfort the morning after Magnus Carlsen won the World Chess Championship. All of us — his wife Aruna, son Akhil and the team of seconds and managers — met one last time for breakfast in the presidential suite of the Hyatt Regency.

While having pancakes, fruit and cheese, Anand briefly analysed the match. Although jokes were being cracked, at some point, there was unexpected silence. You could hear a pin drop. Everybody was recovering from the big blow. What went wrong? It will take a while to find the right answers.

Anand says that he needs some time to collect his thoughts.

“I will play the London Chess Classic Tournament in two weeks. After that, I will take a long break and spend quality time with my family. I will play in Zurich in February and then we will see if I am ready to play the Candidates Tournament in March 2014,” a drained out Anand told us.

His seconds too are tired, their faces pale. They have worked for hours, for days and for weeks on end, staying up until the wee hours, preparing opening lines. They could only take short walks now and then when Anand was playing the games. “It is a strange feeling, because there is no game today and we do not need to prepare anything,” says Radek Wojtaszek, the Grandmaster from Poland, who has worked with Anand on four World Championship matches.

Grandmaster Peter Leko of Hungary, who has played a World Championship match against Kramnik in 2004 himself, knows exactly how it feels to lose an important match. “A World Championship match sucks all the energy out of you”, says Leko.

Anand may have lost but he has some happy memories about this World Championship.

“I was very touched to see parents who brought their children to the venue to see the games. They bought tickets for their kids and they sat in the front row. It reminded of the times in which I was a kid and my mother used to take me to tournaments,” he says.

The reactions of the crowd deeply moved Anand.

“In Game 2, I opened with 1.e4 and everybody was clapping, because they expected to see an exciting game. In Game 9, the same thing happened, but I was playing 1.d4 in that game. Since 1.e4 did not really bring me good luck in the earlier games, I decided to play a different move. The audience started clapping again, because they knew that I needed to win that game.”

This is something that Anand had not witnessed all through his long career.

“I only knew stories from Russia or other Eastern European countries, in which people clapped, when one of the players made a good move. It shows that the audience had a very good sense for the game, my state of mind and the overall match situation,” he says.

Anand feels that his fans may have been disappointed about the outcome of the match but he assures them he isn’t about to quit.

“I will not give up chess. The people here have been very supportive here,” he says. Soon, he is chasing Akhil around the breakfast tables bringing smiles back on the glum faces in the presidential suite. Don’t worry India, Anand will be back!

As always, Team Anand signed a chessboard, to be displayed in the Chess Tigers Training Center in Bad Soden, Germany.  



A head full of chess

On the rest day on Wednesday 20 November, a group of journalists visited Vidya Sagar, formerly the Spastics Society of Chennai.  Vidya Sagar is a voluntary organization based in Chennai, that works with children and young adults with cerebral palsy and other neurological disabilities, their families and the communities they live in. They focus on persons with cerebral palsy, no matter how profoundly affected and other disabilities, where facilities are Inaccessible for their families and the communities they live in. The organization is supported by Vishy and Aruna Anand.

In 2005 Vidya Sagar received the” NATIONAL AWARD FOR THE WELFARE OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES, “awared in recognition of its outstanding performance in the field of Welfare of persons with disabilities”.

You can find an excellent pictorial report about the visit to Vidya Sagar and to “Anand’s Chennai” on ChessVibes.

Aruna told me that they came into contact with Vidya Sagar, when they were told that one of the students, Karthik Chandrasekar wanted to play a game of chess with his idol, Vishy Anand. They visited the institution and Vishy became the brand ambassador.

Warm words from Anand.

Karthik proudly shows a picture of his meeting with Anand. He has also visited the world championship match in Chennai. Karthik often plays online on various online chess servers and has an online rating of around 1550-1600.

Ms. Rajul Padmanabhan showed us around the school and after a Powerpoint presentation, with tea and cookies, one of the students, M. Swaminathan, showed us his drawing skills. He designed the letterhead of the school and he also designed Anand’s business cards.

Ok, now what to draw?

Let’s create something from these pictures, then!

Swami was very concentred when he started drawing the picture. He started off with the pieces on the chessboard….

…and continued with Anand.

Together with his mentor Jacob, Swami discussed the structure of the picture.

And this is the result. I asked why he had drawn the pieces over Anand’s head. Swami told me, that the picture symbolizes that Anand’s head is always full of chess. I was quite impressed that it took Swami only about 30 minutes to create this abstract masterpiece!

 And while Peter Doggers showed the children some recent pictures he made at the world championship venue (or did he open a few  free accounts?)…

…HWS found a new friend.

Visiting Vidya Sagar makes you realize, that there is more in life than 1.e4 or 1.d4. We had a great time at Vidya Sagar and we were happy that we were able to give the children some pleasant  moments. I hope they liked it as much as we did!





Back to school

On the second rest day, on 14 November, we took a trip down memory lane and visited Vishy’s old school, the Don Bosco Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Egmore, Chennai.

Visiting Don Bosco. From left to right: Eric van Reem, Cathy Rogers, Stefan Löffler, Lennart Ootes, Peter Doggers, Ram Bhat (old schoolfriend), Ian Rogers & Hans-Walter Schmitt.

The school was founded in 1959 as a Matriculation School affiliated to the University of Madras.  From 13th November 1978 it came under the jurisdiction and recognition of a separate Board of Matriculation Schools. On 1st July 1978 it was upgraded as a Higher Secondary School. 

John Bosco (Italian: Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco; 16 August 1815 – 31 January 1888, popularly known as Don Bosco, was an Italian Roman Catholic priest of the Latin Church, educator and writer of the 19th century. While working in Turin, where the population suffered many of the effects of industrialization and urbanization, he dedicated his life to the betterment and education of street children, juvenile delinquents, and other disadvantaged youth. He developed teaching methods based on love rather than punishment, a method that became known as the Salesian Preventive System.

 Bosco’s capability to attract numerous boys and adult helpers was connected to his “Preventive System of Education”. He believed education to be a “matter of the heart” and said that the boys must not only be loved, but know that they are loved. He also pointed to three components of the Preventive System: reason, religion and kindness. Music and games also went into the mix.

At the entrance we were greeted by Ram Bhat, who went to school with Anand, and he showed us around. Ram is now the owner of thea very good vegetarian restaurant in Chennai, called Mathsya.

Now that is a surpise, the kids play cricket!

In the school, we were welcomed by the Prinicipal, Fr. Y.L.Irudayaray.

The Prinicipal showed us around and told us many interesting facts about the school. If you want to find out more about this excellent school, visit the website.

Pictures of Anand who visited the school last year in August, to receive felicitations after winning the world championship match in Moscow against Boris Gelfand. 

Anand ist not the only prominent pupil of Don Bosco, other notable alumni are Vijay Amritraj (Tennis), Dinesh Karthik (Cricket) and film producer Suresh Babu.

Hans-Walter Schmitt down memory lane, on Anands seat.  ”The class rooms have not changed that much, since the time Anand and I were here”, Ram Bhat smiled.

Outside the cricket boys had a talk with the uncle from Germany, explaining the cricket rules. Mission impossible.

“But do you guys play chess?”. Yes uncle, I think we can beat you with ease”.

It was a very enjoyable visit to the school. And remember….

Best wishes to the players (2)

The big whiteboard in the lower lobby of the Hyatt Regency, located next to the playing hall is full of “best wishes for the players”. Lots of visitors take the opportunity to write a few words. I do not know if the board, which is now completely full, will be cleaned after the first half of the match, but I think it is nice to leave some greetings to posterity in this gallery.


Vishy’s lounge

“S. Vijay was in for a surprise when he entered the lobby of Hyatt Regency on Tuesday afternoon. The young IT professional from Bangalore has taken leave just to watch the world championship and had bought a ticket to watch the action in game three.

What he didn’t expect though, was a nice little photo exhibition inside the hotel. At Vishy Lounge, in the lobby, visitors can take a look at vintage pictures of the world champion. Among those that will catch your eye are some black-and-white pictures of Anand as a shy teenager.

The entrance to “Vishy’s lounge, in the lobby of the Hyatt Regeny.

There are also photographs from Anand’s early tournaments, such as the candidates match against Alexey Dreev in Chennai in 1991. And of course, there are pictures from Anand’s various successful world championship campaigns.”

This is an excerpt of an article called “Frozen memories of city’s Grandmaster” by P.K. Ajith Kumar, about the photo exhibition in the Hyatt Regency. You can read the full article in “The Hindu” here.

dressed for chess

Young Vishy, from the private collection. “Dressed for chess”

HSBC Private Banking (The HongKong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited) has set up this lounge for clients and VIP guests, although at times the lounge is open to all visitors, who want to take a look at the photographs. As described in “The Hindu” the exhibition is a mixture of pictures of the private collection of Aruna and Vishy Anand and more recent shots. The photographes taken in the last 13, 14 years that are shown were made by your blogger.


Pictures of Anand all over the place, nicely framed. 

You may have seen some pictures on chess websites in recent years, but most pictures have never been published before. When I was asked to pick a selection for the exhibition, I realised how many pictures I had taken over the years. Vishy has played the Chess Classic Mainz very often, in which I was involved as press officer, photographer and organizer. I have also met Vishy on various occasions in Wijk aan Zee, Bilbao, London, Baden Baden and other events. Not to forget the world championships in Bonn, Sofia, Moscow and now Chennai.


Remember Sofia 2010? The team could not fly to Sofia, because of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. You can find the details here. This one was taken just before the start of the trip. You do recognize Vishy of course, but also his seconds. I remember that I had to cut out Ganguly and Wojtaszek (on the right) for the ChessBase article, because we did not want to reveal the names of the seconds.  This is the previously unreleased version!


“The response to the gallery has been good so far“, according to Pratiti Rajpal, marketing communications manager of the Hyatt Regency.

During  the 4th game, a televison team from Norwegian VGTV came in and did a short live interview with your blogger. Later that day, another TV team from Star Sports did an item for their TV station about the exhibition.

Yeah, maybe one day I will become a Bollywood star!

It is very nice to get so much positive feedback by the visitors. So if you do have some time left to take a look at the exhibition, you are invited. Your blogger will be around to explain where these pictures were taken. You can buy some souvenirs in the shop, like “I love Anand” T-shirts or coffee/tea mugs.

I will show you one more picture here. I took this one during the photo session in October with Jan Stradtmann, a professional photographer from Berlin, who gave me some useful advice.

I like to share an email I received from a visitor of the exhibition, who describes this picture:

“The sombreness and the peace on both sides of window is so striking. You have done really well to include a piece of weather along with Vishy’s mood. And black and white was the way to go for this calm photograph. I liked it – keep it up.”

The exhibition will be on until the championship is over.



Recap of a busy day (2)

The post “Recap of a busy day (1)ended with the press conference. What happened in the afternoon? Not long after the press conference ended, we went off to the next official event, which is one of the most important parts of the world championship: the opening. We were picked up by two cars, Aruna and Vishy  in car one, your blogger and Hans-Walter Schmitt in car 2, accompanied by Oleg Skvortkov, a Russian businessman and sponsor of the Zürich Chess Challenge,  and his wife Natasha. So, off we went, escorted by police in front of car 1 and one escort behind us.  Our experienced driver tried to follow the cars, but even with police escorting us, it was quite an exciting ride.

On the way to the Nehru Indoor Stadium, the we saw gigantic posters of “Amma”. The pictures were taken out of the car, so these are just POV shots.


The whole text: “You are the unbeaten King”, “you always make the right move”, “you are our champion”.

In case you still don’t get it: Amma means mother in many languages. It is originally derived from the language Tamil word அம்மா which means mother. In Norse mythology Amma means grandmother, the ancestress of the freemen, or churls. The German chancellor Angela Merkel is often called “Mutti” in Germany, but I cannot imagine seeing these huge posters in the streets of Berlin! It is just an unusual sight for a westerner.  

This “Amma” on the posters is the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu,  Ms J. Jayalalithaa,  who inaugurated the World Chess Championship Match with a cheering crowd of around 7.000 people! Jayalalithaa was a popular film star in India  before her entry into politics. She is in her third term as Chief Minister and extremely popular.

We has a good view from where we were seated. The 2-hour ceremony  was broadcast live on at least two TV channels and on various internet websites. I am convinced that you will find plenty of pictures of the opening and a video yourself.  In front of us, representatives of NIIT,one of Anand’s main sponsors were seated, next to us FIDE officials and members of the press. And behind us…

… a cheering crowd, but aren’t they supposed to carry posters of the players? Carlsen may have thought that he has to play against the prime minister!

 “Well, I prefer to play against Anand, I guess”. 

Vishy had a chat with Mr. and Mrs.  Skvortkov….

…and was surrounded by fans after the show. Standing next to him is an old friend from school, Ram Bhat. On the far left you may spot Lawrence Trent, and the far right Israel Gelfer.

On the way back, it had become dark already, we had to drive to our temporary “home”, The Hyatt, and of course we got stuck in Chennai’s ever-lasting rush hour. It took us about 45 minutes and we nearly made it to the hotel without too much hassle. But just in front of the Hyatt, we held our breath…

The car in front of us is the “Anand-car”, before them the police escort. And you can see that from the right a motorbike tried to sneak in. Nothing happened, but it was close!

Anand sent me a Skype message after we arrived at the hotel: “Come on, you haven’t seen the real traffic”.



Computers, cashew, chocolats, Coldplay

On Friday, the last “free day” before the start of the match, I just wanted to take a look in the press room after breakfast, pick up some badges and check the situation in the playing hall.  And I definitely had to go to the gym. That was the plan.

However, when I arrived at the press room, I was asked by a number of journalists if I could do an “exclusive interview” for their newspapers. I accepted, not expecting that the rest of the day would be filled, doing interviews for a number of newspapers and I even did a TV interview for ESPN Star Sports. Here are a few links.

Times of India:

Indian Express:

At around 18:00 I received an email from the Indian Express with the request to write an article for their newspaper about the last day before the match. “How does Anand spend his last day before the first game, what does he eat, when does he sleep, etc. Oh by the way, you should be ready in an hour, because we have a deadline. And send a picture, too.” Did I say it was meant to be published on the front page tomorrow? Thank you.

So I went up to my room, had a quick talk with Anand, Aruna and the seconds and started writing. It is certainly not a perfect article, but I think it is ok. And the picture is nice.


You can read the whole piece online: click here.


Best wishes to the players

When you enter the Hyatt Regency in Chennai, you cannot ignore this big whiteboard next to the elevator that takes you to the lobby of the hotel.  Visitors can write down their best wishes for the players.

As you can see, the whiteboard is full of “best wishes” and to give as many people the opportunity to write down something, the board is cleaned every day. In the gallery you can read some of the wishes for the players, mostly in English, but there are some wishes in Norwegian (by the Carlsen sisters?) as well!