The advantage of being Viswanathan Anand
- Spot-fixing: Petition in SC seeks stay on IPL matches, demands SIT probe
- India, China call for end to incursion issue, sign 8 deals to boost ties
- Sanjay Dutt spends restless nights as officials yet to decide on his jail
- Aarushi murder case: Rajesh Talwar claims he was asleep when killings took place
- Yahoo! says will acquire Tumblr for $1.1 bn, eyes billion visitors mark
Viswanathan Anand is a master calculator, but even he was unable to predict the effect that the volcano with the unpronounceable name would have on his title defence. Anand was due in Sofia, to play a best-of-12 game match against Veselin Topalov, the hometown favourite. He was en-route from Madrid and with his requests for postponement denied, it looked like Anand's campaign was over before it began. The airspace over Europe was shut, and they had to wend their way through Eastern Europe to reach Sofia.
After this arduous journey, the first game was as anti-climatic as they come. Topalov launched a fierce attack. While Anand had already prepared for this sequence of moves with his team of grandmaster helpers. he could not remember the move, at the crunch. With the clock ticking, he desperately searched the chambers of his memory (an immense library built move by move, book by book over the two decades that he has been a top level player). Rejecting a bishop manoeuvre that commentators said was necessary, Anand finally moved his king from the firing line. Topalov's response was as brutal as it was rapid. A knight smashed into the fortress of pawns around the black king. Anand attempted a flight to safety but it was too late. The white pieces corralled His Majesty in the centre of the board and with checkmate imminent, Anand had to throw in the towel. As he once said in an interview, "It's funny, you may remember every single thing. But if you don't remember that you remember, that is also a problem."
After that disastrous start, though, Anand fought back in the very next game and felled the Bulgarian with some exquisite play. The scores were levelled. What followed over the next three weeks was an epic battle as the two grandmasters went at each other. From torturous endgames to fierce battles in the middle-game, to pieces of outstanding preparation in the opening, the "thrilla in Sofia" saw them all. They did not play perfect chess. Far from it. Its splendour came from the clash of two absolute wills consumed by thoughts of victory.
- Former Ranji player among 3 more held
- Rajasthan Royals to file FIR against tainted trio
- If found guilty, BCCI to ask ICC to erase Sreesanth records
- Top cops among 42 named in death of blast accused
- Manmohan-Li talks: PM takes tough line on incursion issue
- Security forces blame Maoists, villagers say CoBRA man was killed in 'friendly fire'