Anand wins World Chess Championship (in my personal opinion)

In one of the most amazing chess games ever played, Anand Viswanathan has defeated Alexei Shirov to win the World Chess Championship by a score of 3 1/2 to 1/2.

Although Anand only needed two draws to secure the victory, instead of playing 4. Bg5 against the French, which often leads to a draw, Anand chose to play one of the sharpest attacking lines.

Grandmaster Anand Viswanathan in 1989 at the Asian Team Chess Championship in Genting Highlands, Malaysia
Photo by Sam Sloan

Shirov, in his typical attacking style, sacrificed a knight for two pawns, but, when he had finally got four pawns for the knight, he decided it was high time to sacrifice a bishop as well.

The result was that Shirov got four passed pawns for a bishop and knight. His pawns were bearing down on Anand's exposed king. I do not think anybody can figure out what was going on. I certainly cannot.

Now, the question is: Who is the World Chess Champion? At least five people can claim or are claiming the title, Anand, Kramnik, Karpov, Fischer, possibly Kasparov, and even Stan Vaughan, a Las Vegas gadfly. Plus, don't forget Xie Jun, the Woman's World Champion, who was invited to play but then not allowed to play, because she is a woman.

I consider Anand to be the real World Chess Champion. I do not know from what mental or physical illness Kasparov was suffering when he played that what-ever-you-call it against Kramnik in London last month, but one cannot simply resign the world chess championship and appoint a successor, which is what in effect Kasparov did.

The British tabloids suggested that Kasparov's performance or lack thereof was due to a child custody case involving my friend in New Jersey, who happens to be Kasparov's ex-wife, but he denies that was a factor.

I have never previously accepted the so-called "FIDE World Champion" as the real world champion because, in 1998, Karpov had an unfair series of advantages plus he was not only not the best player in the world, he was not even in the top ten. Karpov won the so-called world championship in a blitz play-off. Had he played the traditional long match against Anand, Anand would certainly have won.

Last year's victory by Khalifman was also not acceptable as a world title match, because the so-called match for the world chess championship was a blunder-filled contest between two players who were not even in the top twenty in the world.

Going back, the 1994 match between Karpov and Timman was a match of losers, both of whom had been eliminated in the earlier rounds.

Thus, for the first time in nearly a decade, we have a legitimate world chess champion, even though the process was flawed. (If a different player had won, I would feel differently about this.)

When the next FIDE rating list comes out, Anand will almost certainly be higher rated than Kramnik, as he already is on the current list. Kramnik only won two games for his claim to the world championship. Anand had to win six matches in a row, some of them against players rated nearly as high as he. Anand's 3 1/2 to 1/2 win against Shirov alone should net him about 15 rating points. Anand also defeated Adams, Khalifman, Macieja, Lputian and Bologan.

Shirov was lucky to reach the finals. Every match he played went into tie-breaks, except for his last match against Grischuk, and against Grischuk, Shirov was completely lost in the final game, except that Grischuk fell for a trick.

At the same time, it was good that Shirov got to play a match for the world chess championship, in view of complaints that he, and not Kramnik, should have been playing the match against Kasparov last month.

Anand has long had the reputation for being the world's nicest grandmaster. He is clearly not a child of change who never grew up, as Kasparov is. It will be a great pleasure to have Anand Viswanathan as our World Chess Champion. We might even learn how to pronounce his last name

Sam Sloan [Event "FIDE WCh KO"] [Site "Teheran Iran"] [Date "2000.12.24"] [Round "7.4"] [White "Anand,Viswanathan"] [Black "Shirov,Alexei"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2762"] [BlackElo "2746"] [EventDate "2000.12.20"] [ECO "C11"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Nce2 c5 6. f4 Nc6 7. c3 Qb6 8. Nf3 f6 9. a3 Be7 10. h4 O-O 11. Rh3 a5 12. b3 Qc7 13. Neg1 a4 14. b4 fxe5 15. fxe5 Ndxe5 16. dxe5 Nxe5 17. Nxe5 Qxe5+ 18. Qe2 Bxh4+ 19. Kd1 Qf6 20. Nf3 Qxc3 21. Bb2 Qb3+ 22. Kc1 e5 23. Rxh4 Bf5 24. Qd1 e4 25. Qxb3 axb3 26. Nd2 e3 27. Nf3 Rae8 28. Kd1 c4 29. Be2 Be4 30. Kc1 Re6 31. Bc3 Rg6 32. Rh2 Bd3 33. Bxd3 cxd3 34. Kb2 d2 35. Kxb3 Rg3 36. Kb2 g5 37. Kc2 Rc8 38. Kd3 g4 39. Be5 Rc1 40. Rh1 Rxg2 41. Nh4 1-0

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