Hyderabad: Five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand says Aamir Khan is the best suited amongst all actors to play him in a biopic if it happens in the future. “Aamir plays and understands chess. He is a great method actor... I can only hope he is interested,” said Anand at a function in the city on Sunday that was organised to launch his autobiography, Mind Master.
Responding to a series of questions posed during a HydPark conversation moderated by novelist-journalist Sriram Karri, Anand regaled the gathering of over 400 people, including a huge number of children, unprecedented for a book launch, with anecdotes marking the significant milestones of his life, challenges and evolution as a chess player, and life lessons applicable to everyone learn over a lifetime as a champion sport star.
“The average age of the 10 top-ranked chess players has come down from 36 years over two decades ago to below 23 years now. Chess is increasingly becoming a young person’s sport,” said the ‘lightning kid’ of yesteryears who evolved into ‘Tiger of Madras’, who celebrated his fiftieth birthday a few days ago.
Earlier, Anand shared this special milestone by cutting a chess-board replica of a cake, flanked by several young fans and aspiring chess players, and a panel of guests who officially launched his book, including Mr Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary, industries and IT, Mr Anjani Kumar, commissioner, Hyderabad police, and Ms Upasana Kamineni, vice-chairperson, Apollo Foundation.
Answering a question of the body-mind equation, he said, “fitness regime for my previous generation of top chess players, when I started playing, comprised having a glass or two of whiskey each evening and getting up the next morning at 11. Today, all top chess players work out in the gym.”
On the gender gap in chess, he said, “there is absolutely no reason why a woman chess player cannot be the world champion. From Humpy in India to Judith Polgar, women have competed well against men in the world chess championships; the glass ceiling is only waiting to be shattered.”
On the ‘good boy’ personality of his versus his oft-stated love for the bad boys of sport, including John McEnroe and Zinedine Zidane, he confessed, “it is not my personality type. Maybe I liked them because they did what I could not.”Saying that he “didn’t really know” who between Gary Kasparov or he would have had a better chance against Bobby Fisher in Reykjav$edk, Iceland, in 1972 than defending champion Boris Spassky of Soviet Union, who lost, he said, “by every standard, Magnus Carlsen is a great of the game. People grudge saying it maybe because he is still playing.”
He conceded that while historically he hated losing to Vladimir Kramnik the most, the loss against Carlsen was bad because it was held in his hometown of Chennai.
Anand, giving several tips to youngsters wishing to play chess as a career, exhorted them to have a hobby, not give up formal education till college level and adopt technology for a successful life and career. He also shared the strong support from his mother, and later on wife Aruna, in having a successful career.
“It is up to him totally. I would be very fine if he does not play chess, because it will be hard for him with constant comparisons. He won’t be able to enjoy it in a carefree way as I did. But if he decides to, that would be his own decision,” replied Anand, when asked if his son Akhil was interested in chess.