A day after arriving in Chennai to a hero's welcome, Viswanathan Anand received a standing ovation from the media at an interaction organised by NIIT on Sunday.
Anand, accompanied by wife Aruna, presented the NIIT Turning Point Scholarship for the GNIIT programme to Shanmugha Priya.
After elaborating on the challenges he faced during the World championship match against Boris Gelfand, the 42-year-old chess wizard charmed the gathering with his wit and self-effacing manner as he dealt with a torrent of questions.
The five-time world champion spoke about his hunger for success, Russian President Vladimir Putin's knowledge of chess, and Aruna's support. While confirming he hadn't plans to retire anytime soon, Anand also had a dig at ex- world champion Garry Kasparov's remarks that the former was “sliding downhill.”
Motivation: I don't understand the ‘nothing left to prove' thing. Honestly, I wasn't thinking about how many world titles I had won. It's more about how you love to win and hate to lose. There are no thoughts of retirement. On the contrary, this win has boosted my morale. I am very thankful for the support I have received from the people.
Meeting Putin: We laughed at his remark (when Anand had mentioned he had learnt to play chess in the Soviet Cultural Centre, Putin had said, “so we brought this on ourselves”). I thought it was a very witty line. His main sport is judo but seemed to be very knowledgeable about chess too.
Role of his seconds: The workload in a match is huge. My team has really worked hard. They have stayed up several nights working out ways to find out solutions to problem-areas.
Kasparov's criticism: He retired in 2005 but he was trying to make me retire all through 2011. Maybe he should consult me before he does that because I am going to disappoint him (laughs). It seems to me that he is a man who regrets leaving chess, who misses the attention. Maybe he should play again (smiles). In general, I try not to react to criticism. I try to stay in a bubble but if you are a public figure, you will have to develop a thick skin.
Case for Bharat Ratna: I am not going to canvass for myself (laughs).
Anand, the family man: When I got married in 1996, one of the notes I received from fellow players was ‘you were a strong player.' They thought marriage would have a detrimental effect on me. Aruna didn't know much about chess initially but picked it up in due course. She has been a huge, huge help. When you experience something like fatherhood, it changes everything. In an ideal world, I could spend more time with my son Akhil.
Tie-break rule: The system is much more legitimate now. I don't see why anyone would oppose the rule. Fans enjoy the tie-break and it's made the game more interesting.
Media attention for chess: It's improved a lot. Whether we will ever reach a point where we say ‘it's enough', I am not sure about that.
Fischer all the way: For me, Bobby Fischer is the best player. It is necessarily a subjective opinion. The hurdles he had to face make him the greatest, according to me.