‘I try to be who I really am’

Viswanathan Anand’s chess philosophy is very simple. “Enjoy what you do. Always experiment a lot and have a fresh perspective. Never be afraid of challenges,” the world champion says in a chat with A. Joseph Antony.

The air-conditioners at the Nobel Hall of the Birla Science Centre worked overtime. And there was excitement in the air. Scores of children waited for Viswanathan Anand’s autograph, some getting his famous scrawl on their palms, others on slips of paper, on pads and notebooks. The world champion obliged each of them with a smile and when the numbers showed no signs of decreasing, he simply put his head down to the task of signing autographs at a frenetic pace.

The chess mastermind was in Hyderabad to extend the NIIT MindChampions Academy (MCA) programme to 2005 more government schools across Andhra Pradesh. The MCA kits containing computer-based tutorial material were handed over to principals of the institutions. The event offered children the opportunity to play with Anand, the world champion and the NIIT MindChampion, at regular intervals.

Amidst the throng of admirers, Anand took time out to talk to Sportstar.

Excerpts from the interview:

Question: As the brand ambassador of NIIT did you come across any interesting incidents?

Answer: At Nice airport, seeing me sport an NIIT logo, an Indian came up and wished to know which branch of the computer academy I’d graduated from. When I told him I wasn’t a product of the institution, he wasn’t convinced. Sure that NIIT didn’t dole out freebie sweaters, he probed which batch I belonged to! (Anand endorses NIIT and AMD).

Why did you choose Spain as your base of operations?

A base in Europe gives one easy access to the world chess circuit. I live in Collado and am quite fluent in Spanish too.

Now that you’ve been there and seen it all, what are the new frontiers to conquer?

I’ve no wish list as such, but would like to continue as long as I enjoy playing and the competition.

Have you ever contemplated quitting the sport?

Several times. Fatigue comes, say when there are three tournaments close to each other. Then I take three weeks or a month off. The idea is not to overdose on chess.

What upsets you? You never seem to lose your cool?

I keep a cool exterior, not as any strategy but more so because opponents won’t find it easy to read me. I am happy and disappointed with results, but I prefer to keep my emotions to myself.

What are your links with Hyderabad? Can you trace your evolution from the World quarterfinals at Sanghinagar?

I’ve had some good times in this city. After the World Cup here, there was a slump in 2001. My play became better and my form more convincing. The big milestones have come mostly after 2007.

Your all-time high and all-time low?

The more recent achievements come to mind quicker when it comes to my all-time high. The display at Dortmund in 2001 could come closest as regards the low.

Here is the full interview.

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