Chennai was a low point in my career: Viswanathan Anand
Susan Ninan, TNN | Oct 25, 2014, 10.02 AM IST
CHENNAI: The battle lines are drawn and cautious optimism is the watchword. With less than a fortnight to go for the world title rematch in Sochi, Viswanathan Anand will be looking to avenge his loss to Magnus Carlsen at home last year. Taking time off from preparation in the run-up to the match on Friday, Anand opens up to TOI in a freewheeling chat. Excerpts:
Yet another world title match awaits you, how easy or difficult is it to tell yourself that this one is different?
I don’t really think in those terms. I am just thinking about Sochi and getting ready for it.
Carlsen recently said that he will be banking on the fact that he knows your style of play a lot better now. What bearing do you think the familiarity factor will have on this match?
Each match is different and has a chemistry of its own – whether both players want sharp positions, tactical ones or want to keep the tension for the later rounds. It’s very difficult to foresee how it will turn out. You have some basic ideas on what he would do and you prepare for that. I think we have spent enough time across the table to know each other well.
Do you think that with time and experience, a player’s approach tends to veer more towards himself?
Not at all. You play an opponent. The way I played (Vladimir) Kramnik I couldn’t have played (Vesselin) Topalov. Stylistically they are different. Understanding of positions is different. Experience teaches you to go deeper into your opponents head, heart and soul.
Do you agree with the perception that it is hard to beat you when it comes to knowledge about the game?
Like I said, I don’t think of perceptions and opinions. If you play well you can almost handle all facets. Carlsen does show tenacity in end games.
What have been your takeaways from last year’s match against Carlsen?
Chennai was a low point in my career. As far as I’m concerned, I played badly and lost and then was able to win the Candidates to play a match within a year. Both in Khanty and Bilbao I was happy with my chess. So I’m looking forward to Sochi with positive feelings.
How safe do you feel with your exhaustive preparation?
Thanks for thinking it’s exhaustive. Preparation gives you confidence to go out and play. But a match preparation is almost the pillar on which you base your match play.
What’s your idea of a break from chess in the run-up to a big match?
I spend time with my son Akhil. We have our pet sports of pillow fighting and jumping into a tree house. Watching Terminator never fails to fire me up.