Few would show the kind of grace in victory that Viswanathan Anand did in his biggest hour of sporting grief. Anand accepted he was second-best, apologised to fans but did it with the kind of dignity that made the rousing applause from the media every bit deserving.
And for all those who think Anand would give up, think again. This nice guy has more steel than he usually shows. “I assume I will play the next Candidates but first I’ll get some rest, take stock, come to terms with this disappointment,” said Anand, minutes after Magnus Carlsen took the crown that’s been his since 2007.
Carlsen joined late but before Anand left the dais, said: “I really hope he will be back. Vishy is one of the greatest of all time.”
Friday’s game, Anand said “turned out to be the microcosm of the match. I keep playing and then start making mistakes. Today, Qg5 was a blunder... I simply don’t know. He dominated the match. This depended on my ability to play long games without making mistakes. I have had too much problems on that this year and thought I had paid attention to that. The way I lost the fifth game, I couldn’t afford to lose. The fifth game was a heavy blow. Guess when it rains, it pours.
“Having said that, he provoked the mistakes, so congratulations to him... Game 5 was where it went wrong. That was the real turning point in this contest,” said Anand.
Anand said more than the planning, it was execution where he came up short. “I had a feeling this match would be about good execution, holding at the board and seeing it through. In tournaments, so many things had gone wrong. It continued here and that’s why I did what I did.” And then there was the apology as earnest as earnest could be. “Despite the support, my play didn’t get going. I am sorry for that.”
Maybe it is appropriate to let Garry Kasparov have the last word on the man it is said he loved to hate.
“I know India and Anand’s fans are mourning, but this is also a time to celebrate him as a great champion,” Kasparov tweeted. “No, there is no way to “know” when to go. Vishy should play as long as doing so makes him happier than not doing so...,” read another Kasparov tweet.
It takes one great player to know another one.