Playing chess gives me pleasure: Anand
Amit Sampat | TNN | Jan 6, 2016, 10.20 AM IST

came, he smiled, he chatted, signed autographs, gave smart and honest answers and went on to win the hearts of over 800 young chess enthusiasts here on Tuesday.

Having played in the junior national chess championship way back in 1983 here, five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand was back in Orange City to inaugurate the National School Chess Championship.

Making it clear that he will continue to make his moves on the 64 squares as long as he enjoys doing it, the champion spoke at length about his great moments, his rivalry with Vladimir Kramnik and Magnus Carlsen and much more.


Chess and its emotional connect:
It’s a hobby and I enjoy it very much. It’s my profession, the sport I have been playing all my life. It has meant different emotions at different stages of life.

Best Moment:
Winning the World Championship was a big moment. But then the happiness when I won the sub-junior nationals was no less than when I became world champion. You cannot single out a moment. Thankfully, there have been many good moments in my career.

Chess and life at 45:
Life is going on! Yes, I am 45 now and the clock is ticking. Simply because of the date on the calendar, you cannot stop your life and start doing something else. I will continue playing chess. I enjoy playing chess as it gives me pleasure.

De-stress mantra:
It depends on the amount of time you have. If there are back-to-back matches, I usually do not switch off. But If I have a week’s gap, I take time off the game completely and then get back in the groove before the game. That’s the routine I follow. I spend time in the gym and do other activities. Getting away from chess sometimes plays a big part to de-stress.

Vladimir Kramnik and Magnus Carlsen:
Kramnik was a great player. My rivalry with him goes back to the 1989. I look up to his technique. Kramnik’s creativity in opening is something I admire a lot. Carlsen is very resourceful, clearly one who is true to his style. He is very strong right now. Every player is very different. Over a lifetime of playing chess, you develop a different style. I did not underestimate Carlsen.

Catch them young:
There is a league in Maharashtra and the concept is already getting implemented. To take chess to rural areas is to get it through schools. So, it makes perfect sense to organize school chess competitions. Chess catches kids when their brains are fertile. It even contributes to the overall development. Many sports require infrastructure but chess doesn’t.

64 squares and life skills:
Chess teaches you some skills. You learn things like being responsible and taking right measures before taking a decision. Students who are exposed to chess start doing better in mathematics. It will not teach you how to run or how to work in a team. Chess helps you acquire very specific problem-solving skills. I would recommend it not only to students but to anyone. If not chess, I would not have played any other sport.

The next Anand:
There is a large group of players who are catching up. You have Swapnil Dhopade in Nagpur. There is a gap between 2700 Elo points and getting into top tournaments which allow you to get that far. There are lot of Indians who are knocking on the doors. Some young players too are rising slowly. If they get the right support and environment, they will do really well.

China threat? Not really:
 You see the number of players in 2600 Elo and above category, there are a lot of players. They are working very hard. Right now, I agree there is a good group of Chinese players who are dominating. But people were saying the same thing about them three years back.
Future plans:
I will start doing some work (on my game). Some problems are becoming evident. I will have to sit and address it. Zurich is coming this week and I will just do the best in whatever time I have.

Cheating in chess:
In fact, if you compare the number of players playing tournaments to the players who get caught, you will find that we are overreacting to one or two situations. If you see in the recent case, the player was particularly smart. He kept his mobile phone in the toilet and got caught. But I don’t think the problem is rampant in chess. It’s not affecting the spirit of the game. A layer of security has been added now. You have controls while playing the game. They are normal sensible measures.

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