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ANAND RETAINS THE WORLD CROWN.

A DAY after IPL winners Kolkata Knight Riders were put on a world champion- like pedestal in a nation besotted with cricket, a ' Chennai super king' made the perfect moves to remain entrenched at the pinnacle of the globe's most cerebral sport.

Viswanathan Anand retained his world chess title, outgunning Israeli challenger Boris Gelfand in a quick- fire shootout on Wednesday and crowning himself in glory for the fifth time -- the fourth in a row.

The 42- year- old Indian ace may not have been at his very best in the Classical version but, in the end, it was just about enough to keep an impressive Gelfand at bay. After a 6- 6 tie in the 12- Game Classical series, Anand won the second of the four Rapids and drew the remaining three to emerge a 2 A' to 1 A' victor.

He now becomes the oldest world champion after Mikhail Botvinnik.

In the final moments, it was Anand and the clock versus Gelfand. The challenger put up a great fight, but bowed to both.

By contrast, the hallmark of Anand's success was his speed.

Often, Gelfand was seen down to his last few seconds when Anand still had a few minutes left on his clock. The victory also meant that the ' King of Chess' will keep the crown till 2014, when the next World Championship will be held.

Back home in Chennai, a grand welcome awaits Anand with his parents ecstatic at their son's feat.

" It is a proud moment," the champion's father Viswanathan Iyer, a retired railway official, said, adding: " He has beaten the best of the chess world. It's a unique achievement. I am unable to control my emotions," gushed his mother Susheela Viswanathan. She has been playing the role of mentor to the chess legend since his childhood.

Though the city might not do a Kolkata, the Tamil Nadu Chess Association is planning a grand celebration for the son of the soil.

" He is an inspiring icon for the youth and the felicitation would be befitting this accomplishment," association secretary Murali Mohan said.

" If the government decides to bestow the Bharat Ratna on a sportsperson, it must first be given to Anand," World Chess Association vice- president BV Sundar said.

About the stiff contest between Anand and Gelfand, Anand's wife Aruna remarked: " It's ( the match) an indication of how high the level of the preparation was." Anand's great support unit gives a clear insight into his meticulous preparation ahead of the big game. The chess players in Team Anand include Radoslav Wojtazjek, Surya Sekhar Ganguly, Rustam Kasiimdzhanov and Peter Heiine Nielsen.

His wife is his pillar of support.

The administrative set- up comprises Hans Walter Schmitt, Eric van Reem, Christian Bossert and Mark Lefler.

World champion since 2007, Anand won the junior title in 1989 and became India's first Grandmaster at the age of 16. He became the first Asian to win the FIDE World Chess Championship after defeating Spain's Alexei Shirov in Tehran in 2000.

Then Anand won the tournament in Mexico to become world champ in 2007. In 2008 and 2010, he beat Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov in two thrilling matchplays.

His win on Wednesday marks the first time that he has clinched the title in the tie- breaker. The Tamil Nadu- born world chess champion lives in Spain with his wife Aruna and one- year- old son.

Anand, who became an International Master while still a teenager, started solving chess puzzles displayed on television as a six- year- old.

( With inputs from MC Rajan in Chennai)

$ 1.4 mn

is the approximate prize money Anand has won with the title

HOW IT UNFOLDED

GAME 1

There was a time when Gelfand was slightly better and then midway through he seemed to have opened the door for Anand. Then it was Gelfand's turn to fight back. In the end, it was a draw that set the tone for the Rapids.

GAME 2

It seemed a repeat of Game 10 in the classical series. Anand caught Gelfand unawares. It was not just chess acumen but also a fight against the clock. Gelfand could see the draw but did not have time to avoid defeat.

GAME 3

Gelfand needed to win and the Israeli tried to cramp Anand for space.

Gelfand's position was good, but he could not convert them. He gave away the advantage as Anand managed a draw.

GAME 4

In his last attempt to stay alive, Gelfand tried to get Anand to come into the Sicilian Najdorf, but the Indian resisted as it is Gelfand's strength. The challenger seemed to have an edge, but then Anand improved his position.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:May 31, 2012
Words:793
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