Much as I was disappointed with Vishy Anand not retaining the world championship, I felt better when I chanced upon an article in Hindustan Times that contained a nice table about the details of the former world champions. A slight rearrangement of that table provides fabulous insights.During the last 128 years (since 1886), only 20 geniuses managed to win the championship. In other words, it is a small tight club with high entry barriers. Champions in the past have reigned for many years before they let the crown fall from their heads. On top of the table is Emmauel Lasker who reigned for 27 years in a row without any interruptions. This was followed by Alexander Alekhine with 17 years of reign, though not unbroken. He had a small 2 year break in between. Then a more familiar name emerges; Anatoly Karpov from Russia, who reigned for 16 years with an 8 year break in between. Another genius Mikhail Botvinnik reigned for 13 years from 1948 to 1963, with 2 intermittent breaks. Next in line were three people who reigned for 8 years each. Our very own Vishy Anand, Wilhelm Steinitz and Garry Kasporov achieved this feat in 3 different centuries!
The record book then shows several champions reigning for continuous periods of 6,3,2, and 1 year(s) but none of them could manage a comeback, including the magical Robert Fischer. As I see it, the ability to come back and clinch the title again is very rare and was noticed only among three people in the yester years. In recent times, Vishy Anand is the solitary champion who won back the mantle after a 5-year hiatus from 2002 to 2007.
The question then is, after this recent loss, will Anand just fade away like the 15 other champions or will he mount another successful campaign to take back the crown. The odds are clearly against him in terms of statistics. But isn’t Anand born to defy odds?
PS: Congratulations to Carlsen on his virgin entry into this exclusive club of champions.