Oct 31, 2008

Sport - Q&A Viswanathan Anand

Vijay Tagore

Vishy Anand is surprised that it turned out to be a one-sided world championship. Minutes after drawing the 11th game with Vladimir Kramnik, thus retaining the title, the Indian Grandmaster spoke to Vijay Tagore. Excerpts:

What did you do right?
I took some risks. It was a gamble which paid off handsomely. I knew he would work on my 1. e4 (King pawn opening). I decided to go for 1.d4 (Queen pawn). All his preparation on e4 was wasted. I don’t think it was a surprise for him because he prepared for d4 too. But I could still put some pressure on him with Queen pawn. The other thing was I prepared some sharp and interesting stuff with black pieces. It was a fantastic concept. I could post two convincing wins with blacks. It paid off big time.

Were you surprised that the match was one-sided?
Yes. Kramnik never lost three games in a row.

How much of an effort was it to win the world title?
It drains you. It took a lot of effort and energy. I can tell you the last three days have been very intense. I could have finished the game three days before. In fact, the last half point took me as much effort as the first six points. I had to think of the 10th game defeat one whole day. It was a slow boil. It was a huge relief when Kramnik offered me the draw today.

Did the 10th game loss remind you off Sanghinagar?
Not really though I should admit that at some stage it certainly crossed my mind. The things were different. I had a three-point advantage and I was sitting pretty.

Which was the most satisfying win?
I won the 3rd and 5th games with black pieces. Even my win on 6th game with whites was very satisfying but nothing can compare the satisfaction of today’s draw. It was the most satisfying moment.

What was the turning point?
The three-point lead has to be the turning point. To be more precise, I think the second win (on Game 5) was a kind of turning point.

You have out-prepared Kramnik? Right?
I think so. It took us a lot of preparation. We were able to control the direction of the match. Particularly in the first half. In the second half, he definitely caught up and put a lot of pressure.

Kramnik said a few nasty things before the match. Did that fire you?
Well, you can imagine what all stuff I would have had to listen to if I had lost the match. When you see such things, it has to give some extra motivation. I’m happy that I will not have to listen to such things any more.

You lost badly in Bilbao just before Bonn match. Did you hold back your cards there?
It was disappointing but I knew I would not be able to focus completely. I was not holding back my cards but I was not able to play the 1.d4 move. In the scheme of things I could put aside that disappointment.

You think you have answered your critics, particularly from Russia, who say you can’t win matches?
Yeah. I think I will not have to listen to such stuff any more. This result will take care of that.

You have won in all formats — rapid, knockout and match. You agree that there is no player more complete than you?
I personally see no fault with any format. But having won in all formats, I can put forth the claim to be the complete player.

Are you thinking of Topalov or Kamsky?
Right now I’m only thinking of celebrating.

Will you demand for a rematch privilege which has been given to past champions?
I don’t think I will do that ever. But I have not really thought about it. At the moment I’m too exhausted to think of such things.

Why were you both dope-tested after the match?
It was not necessary but it was a rule set up by the Fide and we have to follow the regulation. It was some kind of electronic testing.

Who do you give credit to for this win?
A lot of people. My family and especially my wife Aruna who has been working like crazy. The whole year she has been doing all the negotiations and dealings. Then my team — Peter Heine Nielsen, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Surya Shekhar Ganguly. These guys had done a fantastic job. While I was sleeping, these guys were working till 6 and 7 in the morning.

You have beaten everyone except Kasparov. Regrets?
It will be great if he changes his mind and comes out of the retirement. I will definitely give it a shot. It will be very exciting to play him again.

Are you too exhausted for the Olympiad?
I’m definitely not playing the Olympiad. After all this work I’m too tired and exhausted.

You have won everything. Is the fire still left in the belly?
It is still there. But I will think about it later. Right now my mind is working on other things.

Finally, what’s Vishy Anand’s legacy to chess?
I don’t know. I’m not thinking about that yet. Today we’re in a celebratory mood.

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