I want to still challenge myself: Viswanathan Anand
Saturday, 23 May 2015 – 7:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna
Derek Abraham

Where do you stand after two back-to-back world championship losses at the hands of Magnus Carlsen?
This year, I am going to be playing only tournaments. The Candidates (the eight-player tournament conducted to determine the challenger for the next world championship) will take place next year. So, I am going to play in Norway, St Louis, London and, maybe, a fourth one in Dubai.

At 45, what keeps you going? Deep down, do you still harbour dreams of winning a sixth world championship?
I want to still challenge myself. I still like playing. I don’t understand why I should stop.

How tough is it to stay fit and focused than it was, say 10-15 years ago?
I don’t think it works like that. Yes, it does get harder. A lot of your rivals start to become much younger. But at the end of the day, it’s just a game of chess and you have got to play well. We don’t have to complicate the explanation. It’s that simple. If you still go on and play a good game of chess, it has to work out. If it doesn’t, then you have to find out why and try harder. That’s roughly what I am doing.

What do you do to stay in shape?
I try to run every day or swim or go cycling. Recently, I joined this cycling group in Chennai. We do about 30-40 km every Sunday. That apart, I go for my long walks.

Tell us more about cycling…
We do different routes every Sunday. Actually, it’s my brother-in-law (wife Aruna’s brother) who got me into it. We do random routes every time. We tend to meet at Adyar or Madhya Kailash around 5 am. We do city tours early in the morning because it’s cooler. Now, we have started doing the beach routes at ECR (East Coast Road) and OMR (Old Mahabalipuram Road).

What’s your bike?
It’s a Timber. It’s quite enjoyable. You can keep a very good pace or you can relax by cycling steadily. But we negate all our efforts by going and having breakfast at Sangeetha (laughs).

You have lived abroad. How important is it to have dedicated cycling lanes in our cities?
This is kind of catching on. Of course, the mountains in Spain are much nicer than the crowded cities in India. But the first thing is that we must make a habit of cycling.

Are you still into
Yes, I still take pictures (of faraway planets and stars using a telescope). I do it once every month. They have named a planet after me. It’s located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Even my son Akhil knows the number, 4538.

How different is fatherhood now?
Akhil is four now. He changes every year. Aruna says he can’t take me seriously. To him, I am just a play partner. He just likes to have fun with me. Generally, if he sees me, he wants to play with me and throw pillows at me.

Is he into chess?
Well, he can tell you all the pieces, but he can’t play yet.

Bobby Fischer said once that theory is killing originality. Is this bad for chess?
I don’t think so. That said, there is a lot of theory in chess. But originality doesn’t mean ignorance. Building on something that’s already there is also originality.

Do you continue to work towards the ultimate goal — becoming world champion again?
It doesn’t work that way. I can’t just say I am looking at winning it. I have to take every tournament I play very, very seriously.

How different was the Chennai loss from the Sochi loss? Did you take heart from Sochi because you ran Carlsen close?
I have forgotten about it. I have played three or four tournaments after that defeat.

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