Audacity under Threat: Vishy Anand’s Mind Mastery

One of my resolutions for 2020 is to keep sight of the bigger picture regardless of the short-term threats around us; attack away according to plan even when shrouded in ambiguity, even when being attacked elsewhere. Offense can be the best defense when under the reins of cohesive strategy.

This thinking came into greater focus over the holiday season. I was passing through Chennai and decided to stop at Higginbotham’s (India’s oldest bookstore) to pick up former World Chess Champion Vishy Anand’s (whose home city is Chennai) newly-released autobiography. As an amateur chess player and fan, I’ve learned a lot from the game and, as an Indian, I was one of millions who tracked Anand’s rise to become World Champion and his reign atop the rankings over the course of nearly a decade. His aggressive style of play in a system dominated by Europeans and Americans inspired many for many years.

In his book, Anand summarizes a key life lesson in each chapter – a fantastic way to write an autobiography meant to impact those who read it. With each chapter, he also recounts a chess game that embodies the lesson.

My favorite chapter brought back what many (including Anand himself) consider to be his best game – the 2013 game against Aronian at the Tata Steel tournament. It’s a simply stunning game because Anand refuses to let Aronian’s threats bother him. Aronian threatens capture of critical pieces and Anand continues playing offensively without bothering to directly address the threats. He adapts masterfully to a position he had not fully studied.

The position shown here is incredible. I was thrilled to revisit it and it sparked new inspiration in me. Strategy only succeeds when buttressed by supreme command of tactics; you have to know your pieces and your squares better than anyone else so you can improvise on the attack.

It took brilliance and audacity in the line of fire to play this game. This is steely, modern play in an ancient game. Every entrepreneur can learn from this game on how to hold your line & how to counterattack in style!