Says his opponent has refined his style a lot and is stronger and more effective with it
Akhil is yet to turn three but inadvertently knows how to make all the right moves that helps ‘Papa’ Viswanathan Anand forget his pain and play without rules.
In the days after the World chess championship match, an understandably disappointed Anand has found an unlikely stress-buster in his son. Clearly, the five-time World champion will take time to deal with the situation but he is firmly on the recovery course.
Looking forward to playing in a 16-player rapid tournament from December 11 to 15 in London, a relaxed Anand spoke to The Hindu in detail about his take on the World title-match. Excerpts:
Anand, how have you been spending your time in the past 10 days?
Actually, it was quite nice. I came back home (after the match), back to Akhil and had some wonderful experiences with him, playing, running around the house, Akhil calling me “Papa… Papa…” Then we went to a school dance of his. It has been wonderful in the sense that though it’s only a week, it feels like it is months since the match passed; you really put it behind you. Then meeting up with friends, I also had dinner with some school friends. Generally, life goes on, what can you do? Honestly, in the last few days, I didn’t want to think about chess. I wanted to play with Akhil.
Coming to the match, you had plenty of positives to look at from the first four games. After the third game, you said, your upside was not adequate enough to force a win. After detailed analysis, do you still have the same view?
I definitely feel it was a mistake that I underestimated my possibilities in that game. It was a mistake. He (Carlsen) mentioned it as well that he thought I had let him off the hook so easily. Well, that I more or less concede. I agree. I should have pressed him a bit more. Thereafter, I atoned by escaping, in Game Four, the way I did. It was a nice defence. The problem was that after Game Four I thought we were really into the match. We were warmed up and it was going to get exciting. But we know what happened next.
Where did you lose the thread in the Game Five?
Actually, it was throughout the game, I mean, there were small mistakes, here and there. I didn’t lose the game in one move. I lost it over several and it’s exactly what I had hoped not to do but it was exactly what I did. So Game Five was one of those losses which hurt because you do it bit by bit. Not one blunder, but the game slips away from you.
Going by your body-language during this game, is it fair to conclude that you were getting increasingly annoyed with yourself due to the choices you were making? You appeared to make some random moves, as well.
Yes. It is quite perceptive. I think, it’s clear I could feel I was making small mistakes and that was getting annoying. But you have to still get a grip on yourself because there is no use crying over split milk and all that. You have to get your thoughts back to the game but there was residue of annoyance. At every moment, I knew that had I been more precise earlier, it could have gone better or have been easier.
Would you say your vast experience failed you, when it mattered, in the match?
Yes. I think so. Your strength comes into play when you are able to stop your opponent playing to his strengths. But I never really succeeded in doing that or only did that briefly. In the end, he was just stronger and he was able to impose his style of play.
In my interview, Magnus Carlsen said he had planned to make you play slow, long games and force the errors. Was his energy-level in the fifth and sixth hours of play decisive since he continued to find moves of optimum strength?
Yes. I mean, I never really adapted to his style well. Clearly, he has refined his style a lot recently. He has become stronger and more effective with it. So, I also had this feeling that if I had managed to pull it off, it would have been a different story. But I didn’t manage to get a grip on his style.
Having brought Carlsen under pressure from the start of Game Nine, mainly due to your decision to open the game with d4 (pushing the queen-pawn to the fourth rank), do you regret not doing so in the earlier games with white pieces?
Yes. But I made a big strategic decision to focus on e4 (pushing the king-pawn to the fourth rank). In hindsight, that was the worst move of the match. Again (smiles) in hindsight, many things are clear. For this match, for some reason, I just felt it was simpler to play e4 and there were grounds for it. Based on my tournament results and all, I felt it was better to concentrate on e4. And it turned out to be a bad mistake.