Anand’s Mentors: Mother Susheela taught him chess; he considers Mauricio Perea and his late wife Nieves as his European parents.
How long has Anand known Perea?
How did he come in contact with Perea?
Met him at a chess event in Linares.
How have his mentors helped Anand’s leadership skills?
Mother taught him never to make rash decisions. This especially helped him in his preparation for world championship matches. Perea helped Anand believe that he was capable of better stuff.
What advice by his mentor’s has stayed with Anand?
Mother: However big and important you are, you should not hurt anybody with your words or actions.
Perea: Only you can judge yourself. What others think or write is irrelevant. You have to be a winner in your head and heart to actually win.
In 1978, when Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator, was six feet deep into the earth, my wife Nieves and I (Mauricio Perea) decided to return to our Patria [homeland], Spain. My dream was to use my dollars efficiently and retire to a life of playing chess and watching football. Through the years, we often travelled to Linares, then a small mining town in Andalusia. We would involve ourselves in the running of the event: Helping players order in Spanish, buying medicines for some and Nieves would mainly be interested in the cotilla or gossip that would surround the chess players.
In 1991, we heard of a young Indian lad from India called Vishy Anand. Viswanathan was a roller coaster on the tongue and the name Vishy, or Bishy in Spanish, stuck. We heard of this boy, from a country that didn’t have much of a chess culture then, take on the great Soviet chess system. What made everyone sit up and notice was that this typical teenager played chess at a pace that was till then not imaginable. He had no coach, no trainer and in many ways was a maverick. He had just won the prestigious Reggio Emilia (The strongest chess event till that time) ahead of Karpov and Kasparov, even defeating the latter in his quest. Having met all the great chess players and many of the World Champions, this Indian boy intrigued me.
When I first met Vishy, he was dressed in baggy jeans, big white sports shoes, a walkman to his ears on which he listened to what he called the Cranberries and Pet shop boys. For an ear trained in Brahms and Beethoven, the sound of this music just seemed like Boom Boom Boom! He would always, and still does, stuff his hands in his trousers and walk quickly chuk chuk chuk back and forth in Linares. We marvelled at the fact that someone who looked like a teenager could be such a fantastic player.
He played Alexander Beliavsky and the boy took 16 minutes. He never sat on the board. When the clock was pressed and it was his turn, he would immediately make his move and start wandering. “Today,” I tell him, “Vishy, you are a mature man, you actually think before you play” …. He says, “Yes Maurice, age you see.”
During that game, we were shocked. We had never seen anyone play so fast and so correctly. So after the game, Nieves and myself met him at dinner and I told him, “Joven [young man], tomorrow you play Karpov, you can’t play in this swashbuckling style, you have to play slowly, not in 16 minutes.” He said, “Sure Mr. Maurice”, and added, “OK I will play slowly. How about 17 minutes?” In that moment I knew I had found a special person on whom I was going to keep an eye. Nieves said, “Beat Karpov for me.” And Vishy said, “Sure. If I do, I will take you to the best Chinese restaurant in town.” Vishy won and came out running to Nieves. He said, “It’s a date. Let’s go.” We never forgot that moment … It was then that he became our Vishy.
I had never met a chess player with such wit, manners and talent. He visited us soon after in our little town, Collado Mediano. I would spend hours talking to him about history, astronomy and of course, chess. In 1992 he was to play a match against Ivanchuk and we suggested that he train in our house. He and his American friend stayed with us. We would take walks, eat out at restaurants and slowly we realised he had became our Indian son.
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(This story appears in the 31 December, 2010 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)