Chennai, June 1 — India’s chess legend Viswanathan Anand Sunday ruled out any possibility of retirement and said winning the fifth World title has given him the boost to carry on as long as he enjoys the game.
In his first interaction with the Indian media, during a felicitation ceremony organised by his sponsor NIIT, after returning at home from Moscow, Anand said he is still enjoying his game and the win over Israeli challenger Boris Gelfand in the World Championship meant a lot for him.
“There are definitely no thoughts of retirement. In fact quite the opposite. (Winning a fifth world title) has been a huge boost to my morale. As long as I enjoy, I don’t see any reason to retire.
“I am still enjoying the game having just defended my title. Winning in Moscow meant a lot emotionally. It’s not only about records. It’s just that you hate losing and you love winning. I am looking forward to playing chess and winning tournaments,” Anand said.
Asked what the fifth world title meant for him, Anand said: “For me, the number has been irrelevant. Every title defence is special. I simply want to enjoy playing chess. There is no checklist.”
Anand said his interaction with Russian president Vladimir Putin, after winning the title, was witty. Putin during the meeting remarked ‘so, we brought this on ourselves’ when the Indian told him how developed his game while training at the Russian Culture Centre.
“Well we laughed because I thought it was a witty line. The meeting was almost half an hour. He is very knowledgeable about chess. He spoke about how chess is important in Russian culture. He was generally very gracious. I thought that was a quick one,” he recalled.
On his preparations leading up to the match, Anand said: “My training was from Jan 15 to April 15. This time my preparation was very intensive because I did not have a camp. Last year I was busy playing tournaments.
“We worked very hard and developed some thoughts. I had several systems prepared with black and white. You always had to start with something new. I knew Gelfand since 1989 and always thought he was very professional and disciplined chess player.
“Someone who had good understanding of the game. He is someone who embodies the best traditions of Soviet Union chess. I knew he would come up with some of the best preparation and he did.”
Recalling the battle against Gelfand, Anand said the Israeli was a tough competitor, who had his own set of innovations.
“Boris was a very complicated opponent. He managed to set all his dominant opening aside and come up with entirely new openings. I had to prepare for all the possible things he could do. He prepared very cleverly. We were continuously playing catch-up during the match,” Anand recalled.
“With the white pieces, he managed to steer clear of our dangerous ideas. This reflected how seriously he was taking the match. It was only in game 11 and 12 that we were able to break out a bit,” he said.
Anand also said that whether he caught Gelfand by surprise he reacted aggressively.
“I was excited about what was to come. I thought I could put him under pressure. The turning point happened very quickly. He made some wrong moves and I was very happy that I could get back into the match. I cannot emphasise how important this moment was,” Anand said.
Praising Gelfand, Anand said: “We both felt genuine respect for each other. I am really happy to have retained my title. Now I can really relax and enjoy this.”