Vishwanathan Anand has become the first non-Russian to win the coveted Chess Oscar for the fourth time. The Indian ace was voted as the winner by a huge margin by the Chess community in the poll conducted by the Russian chess magazine '64'. This is the third straight year Anand has been elected winner of the Award and is the fourth time overall after previous wins in 1997, 1998 and 2003.
Anand said, "It is always an honour to be acknowledged for your performance. In Chess winning an Oscar means the pundits have acclaimed your success. In 2004 I played the best and I silenced the classical chess critics by also winning all the classical events I played in. Chess has historically been seen as a Russian game and I think as an Indian to win the award four times over it is indeed an awesome feeling."
This year 445 chess specialists people from 75 countries voted for the winner.
Anand figured on every list, and was voted the first among 279 contenders.
Last year Anand had received 232 firsts.
This year his total points are a whopping 5205, and he towers over the second placed Garry Kasparov, who aggregated 3664 points, which included 60 first places. Peter Leko (Hungary) was third with 3485 points including 43 first places. Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) was fourth with 3344 points including 37 firsts.
The experts nominated the ten strongest players, and the following point system was used: 13 points for the first nominee, 11 for the second, nine for the third, seven for the fourth, six for fifth until one for the tenth.
Anand overtook the record of Bobby Fischer who won the Oscar three times (1970, 71 and 72). In the Oscar's modern history the award has changed hands between Kasparov and Anand with Kramnik winning only once in 2000. Between Anand and Kasparov they have won it nine times in 10 years.
In the early days of the Chess Oscar the prize looked like an image of ever-young Moscow City, but nowadays it is a statue of Fascinated Wanderer, the character of the novel by Russian famous writer Leskov. This image was embodied in bronze by the sculptor A. Smirnov.
The '64' magazine while announcing the winner said, "No wonder: " The Tiger from Madras " has a unique collection of the first places at various tournaments in classical and rapid chess. Vishy was certainly a leader of the Indian team at the Olympiad in Spain. In general, his present victory, as well as the previous ones, is undisputed."
In 2004 Anand went on to win all the classical events he played in. Starting his winning streak at the prestigious Corus Chess tournament in Wijk Aan Zee, Anand put in a power packed performance to win the event for the second year consecutively. By winning the event Anand joined a select club of people like Euwe and Korchnoi who have won the event four times in the Event's 66-year-old history.
Soon after Corus, Anand played a Blitz match against Vesselin Topalov in Sofia, Bulgaria. Avenging his only loss at Corus against the Bulgarian GM, Anand won the match 1.5-.5.
At the Amber Rapid and Blind Chess event, Anand played some very creative chess, after a little rough patch. He bounced back to beat Ivanchuk and won the Rapid section of the event and took 3rd place overall.
Anand put in a stunning performance at Dortmund to win the title when the event became a knock out.
"I came to the event fully concentrated so as to avoid unnecessary excitement to qualification. When I defeated Svidler in Round 2 I knew I was on the right course." said the Indian. In the knock out stage, Anand played the tie breaks in his indomitable style defeating Vladimir Kramnik in the finals to pick up his third title.
He also won the Chess Classic of Mainz in Rapid for the fourth time consecutively beating his old adversary Alexei Shirov.
At Sao Paolo, the 41st country Anand has played in, he won in style by defeating all opponents at least once.
"After a short vacation in Rio, I was totally inspired." Anand won all games in the second half to win by an awesome three point margin.
"The Olympiad was great fun more than anything else," added Anand.
Representing his country after a twelve year hiatus. Anand donned the nation's colours and steered a young team to a successful performance. "Although the team finished sixth, third place would have been a very justified result. I enjoyed the experience and the boys came up on tops. We lost matches by the narrowest margin," he said.
Another of Anand's favourite chess destination is Corsica. This year too he proved too hot for the event. He won the event for the fifth time, only to batter his previous record of four consecutive wins. At Estonia, another new country for him, Anand won with a 5/5 score and said, "I ended the chess circuit in 2004 in the best way possible."