Lightning kidBack to my request to Anand. We played the Sicilian Defence, Anand's favourite opening. To my chagrin, he treated me like a novice, brazenly advancing the pawns in front of his castled king (normally a complete no-no, because that exposes the king to attack). I thought excitedly about attacking possibilities, but Anand struck as only a “lightning kid” can, with a bishop and a rook that came in from nowhere. My defence lay in tatters. I lasted some 20 moves; a victim, like hundreds of chess players worldwide, of Anand's speed and intuitive flair. Soviet Grandmaster Tukmanov once said of Anand's lightning fast game, “People play that fast only in coffee shops!”These traits seem to have got sharper over the years. Mikhail Tal told me that a chess player peaks between the ages of 25 and 30. But Anand's genius found full flower a bit late; he became a world champion only at 31, regained the title at 37, retained it thrice at 38 and 40, and again now at 42. He is today a bridge between the Kasparaov-Karpov era and the new one led by Norwegian genius Magnus Carlson who is about half Anand's age.