Viswanathan Anand bullish ahead of World Championship
Oct 20, 2014 – T.N. Raghu |

Even the most ardent fan of Viswanathan Anand wouldn’t have expected the Indian chess ace to bounce back so spectacularly after he went down to Norwegian Magnus Carlsen in the World Championship match in Chennai last year rather tamely.

What is, however, sport without its penchant for a surprise? Anand rolled back the years at the Candidates tournament earlier this year to set up a re-match with Carlsen. The man, who revolutionised chess in India, will be gunning for his sixth world title in the Russian city of Sochi next month. Already a great in the cerebral game, Anand will claim a place in the race for the greatest with an improbable win against the world no. 1.

The Indian super GM spoke to this newspaper on Anand-Carlsen Part II.

Q. There had been some doubts regarding your participation at the Candidates. What motivated you to throw your hat into the ring? Did the chance of challenging Carlsen again in a title match prove to be the clincher?

I wanted to play in Khanty (the venue for the Candidates) because I just wanted to. I didn’t want to chicken out of playing a strong event and testing myself against the best. If you don’t raise the bar for yourself you start accepting mediocrity and as a sportsperson I thought that was unacceptable.

Q. You have accomplished everything in chess. Do you, however, feel there is some unfinished business as far as playing Carlsen is concerned?

If you are ambitious, there is always an unfinished business.

Q. What would be the difference between 2013 and 2014? There is a consensus in chess circles that Part II is going to be more intriguing and entertaining…

I hope to make it true.

Q. You have the tailwind now. After coming out on top of a strong field at the Candidates, you have won the title in your last tournament Bilbao Masters before the world championship. How much importance would you give to your form this year?

I have positive feelings. I enjoyed my play in Khanty and Bilbao. I can say I go to Sochi feeling satisfied.

Q. It seemed that you were biding your time in the Chennai match; waiting for Carlsen to make mistakes. Are you going to adopt an aggressive game plan in Sochi? Can we expect fireworks?

Ask me after Sochi and I hope to have the right answers.

Q. Do you think the inordinate time Carlsen took to sign the contract was a ploy to keep you guessing about your opponent? Even when you played him on your home soil, you didn’t indulge in gamesmanship. Do you sense jitters in Carlsen’s camp?

Since Khanty I was quite certain who I was preparing for. In all the years I have played chess I have almost kept a principle of not getting involved in chess politics. Maybe our understanding of our philosophy teaches us to believe in yourself. So, I only look at myself ….Chess politics hasn’t been my biggest benefactor so I choose not to patronise it. My job is to play and promote chess.

Q. You appeared taut in Chennai. Did the pressure of playing at home get to you? If there is one thing that you could have done differently in 2013, what would it be?

Chennai was a low point and I don’t revisit it. It just went badly and I guess at that point you can’t pretend to be a cheshire cat.

Q. You have gone on record on how much you enjoy playing in Russia. It’s also the country where you won your fifth title after a superb tactical battle with Gelfand. Are you expecting another fine outing in Russia?

That’s the plan.

Q. It’s common knowledge that the newer challenges chess pose keep you going. At the same time, you have demonstrated that the process of preparing and playing a world championship match appeals to you. Are you combining both for the Sochi match?

I’m constantly fascinated by chess. It’s amazing that there is still so much to learn almost every day … of course I am happy that I was able to qualify for Sochi almost within a few months of Chennai and I did in a very satisfying manner. It makes me quietly confident.

Q. There is a popular opinion that you were at your best against Kramnik at Bonn in 2008. Do you think an Anand of Bonn vintage will be enough to regain the title?

Bonn was a good result no doubt. If I play well I will have my chances.

Q. Is your son Akhil doing better than 2013 in his stress-buster role?

Akhil is doing well. He is in pre-KG, so he has a busy life. It is fun to see him explore and discover life. It’s always special to come back and have him hug you. His smile and laughter on seeing me makes me feel like the most special person in the world and minutes later… he is busy with something else.


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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