The end of 2017 could not have turned out better for Indian chess legend Viswanathan Anand. Of course, when we mention about the board game in India, the first name that crops up is of Anand. The 48-year-old has been the first chess grandmaster from India, was the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and also the first sportsperson to receive the Padma Vibushan.
The legend, however, faced a major slump over the years and in his own words, Anand wasn't feeling very optimistic entering the World Rapid Chess Championship 2017.
In case you're not aware, Anand, on December 28, won the World Rapid and Blitz Championship in Riyadh, remaining unbeaten throughout the tournament. He also defeated world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway earlier in the tournament and finally went on to finish the tournament as the numero uno with 10.5 points.
Anand was written off by many and that was the reason even his former nemesis Gary Kasparov had the choicest of words for the Indian. "Congratulations to the man from the sixties, Vishy Anand, on his World Rapid title! I hope you dedicated this latest victory to everyone who has asked you when you were going to retire!," wrote the 54-year-old Russian chess wizard.
Describing his journey from the world of 'pessimism' to this unbelievable glory, Anand has just given us yet another dose of motivation, as we head in towards a new year 2018 with a renewed vigour, keeping all the regrets behind.
"I came into this tournament after a very difficult year -- especially the London tournament was a big disappointment," the legend has been quoted as saying by ESPN India.
"To finish in last place was a heavy blow and didn't seem to promise great things for this tournament either and my last two rapid tournaments have been nothing short of disastrous. I came with a pessimistic frame of mind but it has just been the most wonderful surprise.
"It was as though time had stood still."
Thanks all!! Feeling is like floating. My head keeps playing the song... we are the champions! The words ring so true. More on this moment after the blitz!— Viswanathan Anand (@vishy64theking) December 28, 2017
One last try...
The heartbreaking flurry of defeats in London took Anand into a zone he has not quite gotten into frequently. A world of binge-watching, eating, shopping and doing everything simplistic an average person does. Taking part in the rapid chess event this year was never even a plan in his mind.
He had won the title last in 2003 and his performance in the last few years was just a mere shadow of his prime. Nevertheless, Anand sweared by the phrase 'one last try'.
And he boarded the flight to Saudi Arabia, where history and a miracle was waiting to happen.
"It's an absolutely unbelievable feeling and just so unexpected after all the disappointments in rapid chess," Anand continued. "I wasn't even planning on coming here to begin with. Becoming world champion again is the most amazing feeling."