Here, I intend to write what comes to my mind about India. This could be about anything, politics, religion, movies or remote happenings. Feel free to check this blog for updates, who knows some could be of some interest to you.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Vishy - The unsung Indian emperor of the 8 X 8 matrix

For 20 years the growth curve is upwards, no points to guess that it's not about the performance of the Indian cricket team. Oh! it could be true for the growth of the assets of the cricketers but I am talking about the performance of Viswanathan Anand the super achiever who has silently conquered the world of chess. As I write this blog, he is holding the FIDE (World Chess Federation) Rank#1.

How many of his wins have appeared on the front page of the Indian dailies? How many of the Indian cricket losses have not appeared on the front pages?Of course, I understand that there is a difference between a team game and an individual's brilliance. We must accept the fact that the cricket TEAM is also a group of brilliant individuals who fail to work together.

I remember it (the news snippets) so well like yesterday when he landed in India after becoming the World Champion, it was just about 50 people in the airport. About a couple of dozens cheering him the next day or when there was a celebration procession in Chennai with him in an open horse drawn charriot. I don't have to remind anyone of the crowd and security that throngs cricketers whether they win or loose.

I would like to highlight A FEW of his achievements which just went past in time even without many of us even realizing:

  • 1984-85 - Asian Junior (under 19) Championships - Earned the title of International Master at 15, the youngest Asian to achieve this distinction

  • 1987 - World Junior Chess Championship - First Asian to win the World Junior Title

  • 1987- Became India’s first Grandmaster and the Youngest Grandmaster in the World at that time

  • 1989 - 4th International Games Festival, France (Veterans vs. Youth Tournament) - A special triumph in beating 2 former World Champions, Mikhail Tal and Boris Spassky

  • 1990 - Manila Chess Interzonal, Manila - Placed 3rd and became 1st Indian to qualify for Candidates Matches leading up to the World Championships

  • 1991 - Beat Alexey Dreev to be the first Asian to qualify for the Quarter Finals of the World Championship

  • 1992 - Alekhine Memorial (Category 18), Moscow - Won the tournament ahead of Karpov. Attained a 2700 rating, only the 8th person ever to do so in the World

  • 1994 - Melody Amber Tournament, Monaco - Won ahead of stalwarts like Karpov, Kramnik, Ivanchuk

  • 1994 - PCA Grand Prix, Moscow - Won ahead of Kasparov

  • 1995 - World Championship, World Trade Center, New York - Lost the match after a see-saw 3rd week. First Asian to play the World Championship. Attained the World No. 2 position in the PCA Ranking list

  • 1996 - Credit Swiss Rapid Chess Grand Prix, Geneva - Beat World Champion Garry Kasparov in the final.

  • 1997 - 6th Melody Amber Tournament, Monaco - Finished overall first, and individually first in blindfold and rapid. . The first player in the history of the tournament to do so.

  • 1997 - Exhibition against 6 computers at the Aegon Man Vs Computers chess event. - Won 4-2 - One of the few players to play 6 computers simultaneously and win.

  • 1998 - Torneo International De Ajedrez, Linares - Won the strongest tournament ever, in the history of chess.

  • 1998 - Viswanathan Anand wins the Chess 'Oscar' for 1997 !

  • 1998 - "Siemens Nixdorf Duell",Frankfurt - Won the strongest rapid tournament of all time

  • 1999 - Anand wins the coveted Chess Oscar for the second straight year!

  • 2000 - FIDE World Championships, Teheran and New Delhi - Beat Alexei Shirov in the Final (3.5 - 0.5) to add the Crown Jewel to a glittering career and ascend the very pinnacle of game.

  • 2003 - 12th Amber Chess Tournament, Monte Carlo - Became the first player ever, to win 3 unshared titles beating Kramnik's record of 2 unshared and 2 shared titles.

  • 2004 - Mainz Chess Classic, Mainz - Won his 2 major titles on successive Sundays by beating Alexei Shirov 4.5 - 2.5, to don the Black Jacket for the 4th straight year. Anand has now been Champion at Mainz an amazing 7 times in total.

  • 2005 - Mainz Chess Classic, Mainz - Took the title for the 5th year in a row, by beating Alexander Grischuk 5-2 in the Final, in an utterly dominant and professional display

  • 2006 - Corus Chess Tournament, Wijk Aan Zee - Made history by becoming the only player ever to win this tournament a record 5 times! Anand beat Boris Gelfand in his final round game to share top honours with Veselin Topalov. Anand was however awarded the trophy for having won more games with the black pieces. This win also gave Anand a vital 13 ELO points taking his ELO rating to 2805, thereby crossing the magic 2800 ELO point marker, a summit achieved before by only Kasparov, Kramnik and Topalov

  • 2006 - Grenkeleasing World Rapid Championship, Mainz Chess Classic, Mainz - Beat Radjabov twice on the final day to win his 6th Title in a row at Mainz, his 7th in succession and his 9th Classic win overall, setting a record that is unlikely to be surpassed.

  • 2006 - Mikhail Tal Memorial Blitz Tournament, Moscow - Anand scored a whopping 23 points out of a possible 34 and won 11 out of 17 mini-matches to claim the strongest Blitz tournament in the history of the game, beating his nearest rival, Levon Aronian of Armenia by a comprehensive 2 point margin.

  • 2007 - Morelia-Linares Super Grandmaster Chess Tournament, Linares - Took and early lead and hung onto it right upto a final draw with Vassily Ivanchuk, to not only take the Title at Linares for the first time since 1998 but also to take the FIDE World No.1 Ranking for the very first time ever!
While the media was busy chasing the money machines Indian Government did recognized his mastery early and did not miss to honour him.

Vishy is a great example of silent success, a person who believes in performance and not publicity. I am sure his records will set the bar high for the game and also inspire the younger generations. His story is of a normal Indian middle class school kid achieving the sky just through hard work, parental support and encouragement of close ones.

Looks like he is just in the middle of his career and will not stop until he tests the limits of limits.

Good Luck Vishy !!


Wah Taj...

No wonder it's a wonder. No one can dispute the fact that its a moon on earth...

I am getting poetical, why not, the very sight of this marvel can turn a dud like me to Wordsworth. I had visited the Taj a couple of years back, a dream I had since childhood.

By now, you must be wondering why I titled this post as 'NO VOTE...' ? It's just to make sure that I have the Taj to visit after a few decades too, to make sure that we have the Taj for coming generations too to admire.

We have seen terrorist threats to the Taj in the recent past and earlier too. The threats are because its a world wonder. A sore in the eye of destructive minds. The moment it enters the list of 7 wonders, the threat will increase. Am I scared of terrorists, no, I am scared of losing the fragile beauty. No technology can re-construct it. As Navjot Sidhu would say, 'It's better to prepare and prevent than repair and repent'.

This is just one of the reasons, the second is because I think we(Indians) are not as keen and serious in taking care of the monument as much as we are keen on winning the race to enter into the top-7 wonders. Yamuna on which's banks the Taj glows is now almost an industrial drainage. Not many know how important the health of the river is for the survival of Taj Mahal not aesthetically but scientifically. There are some architectural reasons behind it. I have seen permanent inscriptions by our modern Shah Jahans who visit the Taj expressing their love on the floor/walls (I am sure and hope long back and not anymore) of Taj Mahal.

Finally, VOTE, I think we must learn to vote right at the right moment to the right people than just participate and jump into the bandwagon of 'yes' votes. I am pointing to the current government that is ruling the state of Uttar Pradesh where Taj Mahal is. The CM, Mayawati was accused and almost proved guilty on the Rs.175 crore Taj corridor case, which like all other high profile accusations died a natural death.

All these made me decide not to vote to make our beloved Taj as one of the 7 wonders.

Let us all make sure we preserve and protect it so that the world for a long time to come have an opportunity to say......वाह ताज (wah Taj!)....

India's next president

March this year, I wrote that Narayan Murthy of Infosys as my favourite as next president. Subsequently, his response to the question on why he did not play the national anthem in Infosys made me change my mind. I would never vote for a person who wants to downplay his national anthem for the convenineance (perceived) of foreign guests. In whichevere country this happens, its not good. Though my Utopian earth is a single nation without any boundaries dividing it; until then, every one must respect their own nation and others too.

Coming to the contest between Prathiba, Bairon and Kalam.

In the same blog post mentioned above I wrote that Kalam's potential must not be wasted by staying in the post for the second term. Today, he has bailed out of the fray which I am happy about. Long back, he came up with suggestions for a few states to improve and a vision 2020. I think he must work on it and try to take it forward. With the admiration and respect he has won, the whole nation will back him for any such effort.

I had heard of Bairon Singh Shekawat as the VP and a little before that and Prathiba was someone whom I had not heard of until 3 weeks back. I know it's not popularity which is needed for presidentship else it'll be Amitabh or Shah Rukh Khan who'll occupy the chair without any doubt.

If India wants to claim to have a woman president before the mighty US had one, then it's an opportunity. Again, is this what we look for? Are we in a race to set records with the post of a president? Do we have any eligibility criteria otherwise? What is the roles and responsibilities of a President? It's the country's supreme seat, the emperor throne. I think a lot must go into it.

I am not comfortable with the pattern being followed for filling the position.

1. KR Narayanan - dalit minority*
2. Abdul Kalam - Muslim minority*
3. Prathiba (probable so far)- woman*

* I hold my opinion about the reservation system, I might blog about it later.

Is the post being politicized ? Next, will it be rotated amongst each caste, religion, state or any other classification in the country? Is it healthy?

Have we lost the ability to identify the likes of great statesmen who occupied the seat earlier?

Have we changed our minds?

Are we in the right path?

A sensation called Sivaji

Honestly, I don't know of one south Indian who doesn't like Rajni(kanth), some may not be a fan of his but they don't hate him too. It's mainly becaus most of his movies are simple, entertaining, which has good action, comedy, drama ending with a 'good over evil'.

As everyone says, this must be the maximum publicized, highest budgeted movie so far in India.

It was a kind of frenzy here in Bangalore for a week after the release of this movie. I did not seeany other discussion happening in public places and in office water cooler points other than about this movie.

It must be a scary month to the people who've invested in the movie. They definitely would have done their home-work but the Indian box-office is just like the Indian cricket team, you never know... If it succeeds it's a jackpot if it flops you are on the streets. Biggest bet ever for most or all of them, maybe for both Rajni and Shankar too.

Couple of first hand comments I got from people who watched the movie are:


'Good one for Rajni's fans'

'Good to watch once'

I am yet to hear what I expected.

I have not watched it yet, and I will post my comments once I watch it.

I leave a few stats I found on the web to mull upon for now:

Releasing worldwide in 27 countries on same day with about 2900 theatres. (Earlier Record-- Krrish in 14 countries in 1200 theatres).

India -2200 theatres China-211 theatres Japan-130 theatres Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong-100 theatres Saudi Countries-100 theatres USA-80 theatres UK-70 theatres And this release is only behind Casino Royale which is released in 36 countries in 3200 theatres.

Rajnikant's Remuneration in his last 3 movies: Baba----20 crores Chandramukhi-----25+ crores Shivaji-----40+ crores Rajnikant is only behind Jackie Chan in terms of remuneration in Asia.

This movie is planend to be dubbed in local language of Turkey, Gonga(tribal language of South Africa) and Kshinola( Tribal language of Argentina)