Vishy's December #11 - The co-author
It's been around a week since the book authored by Vishy Anand - Mind Master has been released. It has been so popular that it has made it to Amazon's bestseller list. Instead of being a traditional autobiography where the author writes about the events in his life in a chronological order, Vishy Anand decided to focus on the most interesting and compelling stories of his career and the lessons drawn from them. In order to write the book with him he chose Susan Ninan. Susan is a journalist for ESPN and has been a fan of Vishy Anand since many years. She has interviewed Anand on several occasions and the quality of her work convinced Vishy to have Susan as the co-author. In this article we speak to Susan about the book, Anand and more.
They don't make champions like Vishy anymore
By Susan Ninan
Q: Susan, how did you decide to work on Mind Master along with Vishy?
Susan Ninan (SN): Well, the idea was entirely Vishy's. When I was asked if I'd be willing to co-author it with him, of course I leapt at the opportunity. He wanted to tell his story but not in a typical autobiographical fashion. Instead we picked out key moments from his life and career, the ones that shaped him and gleaned for learnings from each of them. We wanted readers to take away something from his life. Our attempt has been to make the book appealing to chess fans and also engaging for the non-chess reader and hopefully, we've succeeded in straddling both.
Q: What is your contribution to the book?
SN: My attempt has been to bring Vishy's thoughts and experiences along with inputs from people who've been contributory to his success, whether it's his former or current seconds or Aruna and put together a book that has the flavor of chess while making it engaging for the non chess reader.
Q: Which is your favourite chapter in the book?
SN: Quite honestly, it's hard to pick one. I particularly loved talking to him and working on the chapters that revolve around the Bonn and Sofia matches though. Bonn, quite simply for his attitude and tenacity and Sofia for all the circumstantial odds he had to navigate. It may have been easier to sulk, or walk away in any of these scenarios but Vishy was clear about his choices and that made all the difference.
Q: How has been your experience as the co-author to this book?
SN: It has been the most fulfilling experience to be able to co-author this book with Vishy. It offered me a close peek into the mind and world of a champion. Akhil was interested in the voice recordings and would voluntarily offer French recitals on occasion which was fun.
Q: Is this book limited only to chess players? What would someone get by reading this book apart from knowing more about Vishy Anand?
SN: No, not at all. In fact our primary attempt has been to make the contents and manner of storytelling in the book appealing to a wide readership. Vishy plays the protagonist and chess is the tool here but the plot really reaches out to almost everyone, from a chess player, a young grad student to a guy running his own business.
Q: What is that one quality of Anand that you find special?
SN: His honesty and pragmatism. It comes through in the book as well. He's forthright about the events in his life so far, doesn't shy away from talking about the failures he's encountered and is realistic about what lies ahead next. It's these very qualities I think that have sustained him in the sport for so long.
Q: Vishy Anand just turned 50 recently. What are your wishes for him?
SN: They don't make champions like you anymore! Happy birthday Vishy!
About Mind Master
Few people know better than Viswanathan Anand how to tackle the gravest obstacles and overcome the toughest odds. From the time he learnt to move pieces on a chess board as a six-year-old, Vishy - as Anand is fondly known - has racked up innumerable accolades. The first World Chess Champion from Asia, he emerged onto the world stage when chess was largely a Soviet preserve, climbed the ranks to become world No. 1, bagged five world championship titles and won tournaments across all formats of the game. An ambassador of the sport like no other, his is one of the most revered names in chess.
In Mind Master, Vishy looks back at a lifetime of games played, opponents tackled and circumstances overcome and draws from its depths significant tools that will help every reader to navigate life's challenges.
What role do tactics and strategy play in the preparation for achieving a goal?
How can emotions be harnessed to be of advantage in tricky situations?
What are the precautions to be taken before you decide to leave your comfort zone and embrace risk?
What do you need to do to stay relevant in the face of rapidly changing realities?
Is unlearning really the only way to learn?
These are just some of the nuggets Anand touches upon with characteristic wit, easy wisdom and disarming candour in Mind Master - a delightful and invaluable exploration into the self that will thrill, inspire and motivate readers as few books have done before.
About the author
Susan Ninan works at ESPN. She writes on different sports, chess and Vishy Anand being her favourites. Here are some of her excellent articles:
I wonder why everyone wants me to retire
My chances of winning another world title is greater than zero
After years of working as a second, Ganguly is back to his first love
Previous articles in Vishy's December
#01: Anand Viswanathanovich by Ravi Abhyankar
#02: Inspiration, teammate, second by Sandipan Chanda
#03: In India, chess = Anand by Sethuraman
#04: India having 65 GMs is unthinkable without Anand by Surya Ganguly
#05: Tyger Tyger burning bright by Upendra Rawat
#06: The Anand Files by Michiel Abeln
#07: From an 18-year-old talent to a 50-year-old legend by Frederic Friedel
#08: Last man standing by Vladimir Kramnik
#09: A rival and a fan by Peter Svidler
#10: I walked with a giant by Praful Zaveri
Want to share an Anand story this December?
This entire December, ChessBase India is celebrating Vishy Anand's 50th birthday. We would like you to contribute any interesting story that you might have with Anand so that we can publish it on our newspage. In case you would like to share, you can do so from this google form link. Alternatively you can also send it to us via email@example.com
You can also get the Vishy Anand 50th anniversary special t-shirt launched by ChessBase India. It comes in two colours - grey and white.