There is a woman behind every successful man. In the case of World champion Viswanathan Anand there are two. If his mother, Susheela, introduced him to chess and shaped his career, it is his wife, Aruna, who has been his pillar of strength.
Since she took over as his manager after marriage, Aruna has made things easier for the champion. Even as Anand concentrated on his preparations and matches, she took care of all other aspects as a matter of routine.
Her role in Anand’s career came into focus during his World Championship match against Veselin Topalov in Sofia --- especially in organising his travel to the Bulgarian capital following the air-traffic disruption in Europe in the wake of the volcanic eruption in Iceland. She negotiated with FIDE and local organising committee officials and finally convinced them to postpone the match.
“That was very tough, revising the plans and looking for alternative means to reach Sofia as quickly as possible,” said Aruna on Wednesday, a day after Anand retained the title.
She virtually battled it out with the Bulgarians to get Anand an extra day’s rest after a 40-hour journey across Europe from Frankfurt to Sofia, spanning five countries and 1200 kms.
Aruna had a premonition that things would be difficult for her husband in Sofia, but never realised it would be so tough. She had been told about the pitfalls of playing in the opponent’s country and the psychological warfare. “A lot of people asked me why Anand had agreed to play in Sofia. They felt that Topalov’s team would try and put Anand under pressure though mind games.
“But we came with a certain mindset. We wanted to get a good hotel and set things up, concentrate on the game and not bother about other things. The organisers too were cooperative and things were going fine. But then the volcanic eruption happened and everything went haywire.”