Anand Files, The

The World Championship Story 2008-2012

Michiel Abeln

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Quality Chess
512 pages

Quality Chess illustrates why it is the best at what it does. Each one features a top notch author, a well-chosen topic as well as  easy to read layouts and first-rate paper and binding. The concern for getting everything right even extends to careful proofreading, often overlooked by other publishers.  

If you have ever wondered what it’s like inside the team of a participant in a World Championship match wonder no longer. Michiel Abeln’s The Anand Files: The World Championship Story 2008-2012 provides a front row seat to Viswanathan Anand’s battles with Vladimir Kramnik, Veselin Topalov and Boris Gelfand through interviews, game analysis, reporting and more.

Abeln had the cooperation of Anand plus his principal team of Grandmasters Peter Heine Nielsen, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Surya Ganguly, and Radek Wojtaszek and their comments are revealing, to the extent one suspects this book could not be published until now as Vishy was still competing for the World Championship in 2018. Although Anand is still rated in the top 15 in the world in early 2020, a remarkable achievement for a player who recently turned 50, his days battling for the crown appear to be over. 

One thing that comes across front and center in Abeln’s book is just how hard top professionals work these days. Powerful computers loaded with huge databases of games and strong chess engines are both a blessing and a curse and Anand’s team seemed to always be running a sleep deficit during his World Championship matches. One of the biggest jobs of Vishy’s helpers was trying to find ways to present huge amounts of analysis in such a way he could remember it. Chess has been transformed the past three decades.

The Anand Files: The World Championship Story 2008-2012 is the rare chess book that can be enjoyed by a wide audience from the armchair warrior to the hard core professional.