KOCHI: They have been involved in a few of the most memorable encounters in chess in the 90’s and early 2000’s. As recently as May this year during the World Championship match in Moscow, they were involved in a verbal joust reigniting their old rivalry.
And yet, current world chess champion Viswanathan Anand declared in no uncertain terms on Monday that the game would be very happy to see his nemesis Garry Kasparov make a return from retirement. While he termed the possibility of Kasparov’s return “unlikely,” Anand felt it would raise the popularity of the sport yet again.
“He (Kasparov) retired back in 2005 and does not seem like he wants to make a comeback. If it does happen, it would surely be a very nice story. His fans would be extremely happy and he knows very well just how much it would mean to the sport to have him back. However, I get the feeling that he wants to concentrate on chess politics more than making a full-fledged return,” said Anand of his great rival, during a function in the city.
Anand, who is one championship short of matching Kasparov and fellow Soviet Union GM Anatoly Karpov’s haul of six world titles, said that such statistics do not really matter to him. “I want to stay as world champion as long as I can, but the sixth title holds no particular importance. While I was preparing to face Boris Gelfand in Moscow, I really did not know that I was fighting for a fifth title,” he said.
Talking of India’s progress in chess, Anand said the country could soon become a powerhouse in the sport. “Right now, we have a lot of players doing well up to the age of 20. But the likes of P Harikrishna, Surya Shekar Ganguly, K Sasikiran have all failed at consolidating a top-20 spot. They are all working very hard but seem to lack a certain consistency which will come once they get the right breaks.
“But participation in chess has really gone up around the country among boys and girls. As long as children keep getting into the game, we will eventually become a powerhouse in the sport,” he said.
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– GM Susan Polgar