'You can make life exciting by giving yourself little goals': Viswanathan Anand
In an interview, Anand reflects on his chess journey and shares lessons learned beyond the chessboard.
Viswanathan Anand, affectionately known as "Vishy," is widely regarded as one of the greatest chess players of his generation. Nicknamed "The Lightning Kid" for his quick calculations and execution of complex moves, Anand made history as the first Indian Grandmaster. He learned to play chess at the age of six and went on to have a successful career, winning multiple World Championship titles. In a recent episode of CRED's The Long Game series, Anand reflects on his chess journey and shares lessons learned beyond the chessboard. Here are some highlights:
On investing time on your craft – “Chess players always carry around a magnetic chess set. Good chess players think of chess a lot. Time spent on thinking about the game would seem wasted until it suddenly becomes useful. Good ideas don’t come easily if you don’t put in that time. So, my takeaway is that if you want to get something you must spend a lot of time on it. Because one day when you’re successful, it may seem like it popped out of nowhere, but it never does.”
The importance of risk taking– “The match against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008 was probably the best match I have played in my life. I made a decision to switch from my lifetime opening to his lifetime opening. I said this is a big risk, but it was not a gamble. I had a year before this decision. I prepared myself and I played, I did not gamble. So, risks are essential. It is said that the biggest risk sometimes is to take no risk at all.”
Focusing on things you can control – “We heard a rumour that my opponent had a very sophisticated computer, much more powerful than anything we had. My opponent’s manager was trying to provoke us. On the first day, I lost in the most embarrassing fashion. At some point, when you cannot control things, you cannot obsess over the fact that you’re not controlling it. Let go and depend on what you have.”
Playing against Kasparov in his first World Championship – “It was my first World Championship. I had won game nine and took the lead. I then had a spare weapon prepared exactly for this moment. All I had to do was switch and where I went, he had been waiting for me. He played a new move that changed the evaluation. Sometimes you can have a perfect strategy, but under pressure you simply don’t know how to implement it.”
The power of setting small goals– “Over my life’s experience I have understood that these things are part of a cycle. They come and go. You cannot always be excited. But you can make life exciting for yourself by giving yourself little goals. It gives you something new to look forward to.”