Vishy Anand — World Chess Champion

Life and Games (3rd edition)

John Nunn, Vishy Anand

Reviewer: John Watson
544 pages

I’’ve reviewed and praised two earlier editions of Vishy Anand: World Chess Champion, Life and Games, and you can find my comments in the Archives of The Week in Chess website. When parents and students ask me about a good games collection to study, this book has been my most frequent recommendation. It is not only exciting and readable, but connects better with the modern student who has trouble relating to the classic 19th- and early 20th-century games collections because of their narrow range of openings and middlegame structures.

This new edition has 30 extra games; they include Anand’s world championship tournament victory in 2007, as well as his match wins versus Kramnik and Topalov. In the 2nd edition, Anand annotated the games and they were checked by John Nunn. This time Anand selected the new games, John Nunn did annotations, and then Anand did the checking. The style of annotation, with an emphasis on explanation and moderate amount of analysis, has remained the same as in earlier editions. From Nunn’s Introduction:

“I have always admired Anand’s games for their apparently effortless logic, which often has even very strong players in difficulties right from the opening. While he prefers to avoid complications, he does not shy away from tactics if he thinks that is the correct course. The instructive value of these games is immense, and my annotations to the new games attempt to explain some of the principles underlying his play. These days, deep computer-assisted opening preparation is more important than ever, but I have preferred not to go into the openings in too much detail, simply pointing out new ideas when they occur and attempting to explain their significance.”

At the end of the book there’s an interesting 16-page “Appreciation” by Sean Marsh, consisting of a description of Anand’s path to the world championship combined with a two-part interview of Anand from 2011. A humorous but also revealing excerpt:

“I asked Anand how it felt to be the undisputed king of chess and if holding the FIDE title for the first time in 2000 had been diluted somewhat by the existence of a rival titleholder.”

VA: “Personally, I felt this was the championship open to me, I won it and I tended to dismiss other arguments. But I noticed for a while that . . . well, inevitably you can only just ignore the rest of the world and I think someone said that if there are two World Champions there are actually none, and that statement seemed to be true to me. If, every time you have to talk to someone they say, ‘Oh, you’re the World Champion . . . which one?’ And then if something has to be explained in eight paragraphs instead of one pretty word, then it’s a drag, so for sure, that was an irritating phase. So in 2007, when people said, ‘Are you the World Champion,’ I was able to just say ‘Yes !’ and not give a long legal explanation. Then it’s already much, much nicer.”

In the style of a stock market analyst, I’ll repeat my “buy” recommendation. With the new games and extra material, this edition offers value appreciation. I should mention that Gambit is offering a large selection of their books as e-books for Kindle and apps, a list of which can be found on their site. With a click, they can be downloaded via Amazon.