Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand pens inspirational book
India’s first Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand writes a memoir on the lessons his life and career have taught him...
Viswanathan Anand is one of the most prominent names in the world of chess. Over the three decades, since he turned Grandmaster, he has won five World Championship titles among innumerable other tournaments and has continued to push past barriers to remain among the world's top chess players. His achievements have helped inspire a generation of chess players in India. Anand is an astronomy buff, and an avid reader on maths, economics and current affairs. He loves to travel, particularly on wildlife safaris. He supports many charitable causes, chief among them being that of children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disabilities.
The champion has come out with his memoir 'Mind Master: Winning Lessons from a Champion's Life' in collaboration with Susan Ninan.
Susan is a sportswriter with ESPN and is based in Bengaluru. She has covered major sporting events like the Commonwealth Games and the World Chess Championships.
In the book, Grandmaster, and five-time chess World Champion, Anand looks back on his wealth of experience and shares sharp lessons on how to navigate life.
With this narrative, laced with wit, wisdom and disarming candour, are interwoven Anand's insights into tackling life's challenges – making talent work hard, becoming solution-oriented and working your way around blocks, handling emotions in the face of adversity, learning to read patterns to anticipate future scenarios, being open to learning at all times, and unlearning set notions when the need arises.
Excerpts from an interview
What was the idea to pen a memoir at this point in your life?
The idea to pen a memoir has been a long time coming. We had attempted it on earlier occasions, but somehow it didn't come to fruition. Two years ago, we had a sudden, convenient, natural deadline – my fiftieth birthday – and that helped us a lot in focusing our energy in getting it [the book] done in time.
How and why did you choose the title 'Mind Master'?
There are obviously many names associated with chess, the mind and master. But since a lot of the book is about my struggle to control my mind, 'Mind Master' seemed like the appropriate title.
How was it to collaborate with Susan Ninan?
I enjoyed collaborating with Susan a lot. I must say that I was mainly dictating the story; Susan would write it down and then put my thoughts together. We'd review that later, so there was a lot of going back and forth. Aruna, Susan and I, we all got together and decided what were the things we wanted to highlight and talk about, what were the experiences that influenced me a lot. Susan would then ask me about that and I would talk quite freely. I felt that this time around since I was getting to fifty, I was more open about things and able to talk about a lot of things. It's true, in some cases it would have been awkward to write them myself, but you say it, it comes back in a book-form and you're sort of relieved it's out there.
Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
I'm sure I have quirky writing habits, but in this case, it was very helpful that Susan was my co-author. This was a work of collaboration with many people. My wife, Aruna, played a key role even though she is not credited in the book, much like she's played in my career. She helped organize a lot of the experiences, supply a lot of the missing memories and organize the book. We did follow a set schedule. If one only writes when one feels inspired, the book would not have gone anywhere. You have to have a set schedule. It was helpful knowing that there was a schedule when Susan would come and I would have to talk to her, that we'd have to get work done. This time, as I said, we were organised. There was a focus on getting it ready for this deadline. I'm really glad we pulled it off and I hope it does well.
Is it a onetime stint or are you planning to author more books in future?
Having finished the book now, I'd like to take a break and think about future books at a later date. I'm not ruling it out, but right now, we've put in a lot of time and energy into this book and I really want to share that.