Anand wants to win it for Indian chess
Sep 06, 2013 – S. Sujatha

Chess ace Viswanathan Anand is in the midst of energy-sapping preparations for his world championship duel with Norwegian prodigy Magnus Carlsen in November. The five-time champion has a chance to extend his reign at a place where his epic journey in the exacting world of chess began — Chennai.

Anand’s current location may be undisclosed but his ambition is as clear as daylight. Let there be no doubt about his drive. The Tiger from Madras is hungry for more. In an email interview to this paper, Anand answered some probing questions with his customary candour and zeal. Excerpts:

There is a buzz about your match with Carlsen even outside chess circles. Is it comparable to Fischer vs Spassky? How will you approach the contest?

I am aware of being the homeboy. But I am mainly focusing on chess. At the board a move can’t be defined to come out of home advantage. It comes out of good preparation. Although it’s a pleasant and proud feeling to play at home base, I am only thinking about the match and physical preparation.

In matchplay, you have consistently proved that you are the best in the new millennium. Your view.

I was not considered a match player till Bonn! So now I am the match specialist. I have tried to reinvent my game for the match I need to play. And since 2008 I have played three on the trot.

Do you think beating Carlsen will be the pinnacle of your career?

I think every match you win you go a notch up in your status. I will be going there to win mainly for myself and for Indian chess.

Carlsen has said even though you have done well in match play your performance against Topalov and Gelfand gives him confidence. At the same time he doffed his hat off for your show against Kramnik. Your comment.

I don’t reflect on my previous matches. Of course in each match there were good moments and bad ones. The important thing is I held on till the end. Also, the opponent’s style decides the nature of the match. Topalov is a relentless player so he gives and takes opportunities. Gelfand is a master of his theory so breaking through a near perfect preparation is difficult.

The world championship has not featured an Eastern European, specifically a player from the Soviet bloc, in a long time. Is the chess world changing?

Definitely. It is very good for chess especially to broad base the audience.

What do you think was your peak in chess?

As a sportsperson you never think and reflect in those terms. You play every game thinking your best is about to unfold. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. But you can’t stop trying to tag your performances.

Who do you think is a stronger opponent — Kasparov or Carlsen — and why?

At present I am only thinking about Carlsen. It is difficult to compare across generations. Chess has changed since the 90s, so the definition of a strong opponent becomes relative. In a match every opponent is the strongest at that point.


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