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Vishy Anand, 54, Defies Age to Win 10th Leon Masters Title

Vishy Anand's 10th Leon Masters title is a celebration of his enduring legacy, his timeless brilliance, and the unyielding support from his loved ones. His magical game of chess continues to inspire generations of players and fans alike, proving that age is no barrier to achieving greatness in the timeless game of chess.

SPORTS

Aashish Verma

7/1/20242 min read

Vishy Anand's Magical Victory at the 10th Leon Masters: A Testament to Timeless Brilliance

In a remarkable display of skill and resilience, Indian chess legend Viswanathan Anand clinched his 10th Leon Masters title, defeating GM Jaime Santos 3-1 in the final match. At 54, Anand's triumph in this prestigious event held in northwest Spain is a testament to his enduring mastery of the game and his ability to compete at the highest level even against much younger opponents.

Anand's journey to victory was far from straightforward. Despite his vast experience and numerous accolades, the final match began with a shaky start. Local hero Jaime Santos put up a formidable fight, pushing Anand to his limits in the first game. Anand described his initial performance as feeling "fatal," confessing that he had moments where he doubted his defense would hold. Yet, with characteristic tenacity, Anand managed to stave off Santos' advances, ultimately securing a hard-fought draw.

The turning point came in the last two games, where Anand's strategic prowess and deep understanding of the game shone through. He deftly outmaneuvered Santos, securing two consecutive wins to clinch the title. This victory adds to his illustrious record, having previously won the Leon Masters in 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2016, and now 2024.

Anand's victory is even more impressive considering the current landscape of chess. The chess world is witnessing a surge of young talents such as Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, and Arjun Erigaisi, all of whom are breaking into the top 10 of the classical chess rankings. These prodigies, aged between 18-20, are making waves with their innovative strategies and fearless play. In this context, Anand's ability to not only compete but also triumph in a prestigious tournament is nothing short of miraculous.

Notably, Arjun Erigaisi, another young Indian star, was defeated by Jaime Santos in the semi-finals, underscoring the challenging path Anand had to navigate to claim his title. Anand's semi-final match was against Veselin Topalov, a player he famously defeated to become the World Champion in 2012. This encounter was a nostalgic reminder of Anand's storied career and his continued excellence in the sport.

Anand's victory is also significant considering his current world ranking. At 54, he is ranked sixth in the world in rapid chess, a testament to his enduring skill and adaptability in faster formats of the game. His success in the Leon Masters further solidifies his status as a chess icon, capable of competing with and defeating the best players across different generations.

In a heartfelt tweet after his victory, Anand shared the personal sacrifice he made to participate in the tournament, missing his wife's 50th birthday. He wrote, "As my wife celebrated her 50th birthday, I was apprehensive about being away playing chess. However, she told me to go and play, saying, 'Who knows, you might win.' Very happy to win while it was still her birthday!! Sometimes, the best moves are the ones made with love and support. Checkmate to a wonderful day!"

Vishy Anand's 10th Leon Masters title is a celebration of his enduring legacy, his timeless brilliance, and the unyielding support from his loved ones. His magical game of chess continues to inspire generations of players and fans alike, proving that age is no barrier to achieving greatness in the timeless game of chess.