For the past six years, Viswanathan Anand has compromised with his tournament results to stay focussed on keeping the World title.
The five-time champion may have already attained legendary status in the game but is not done yet.
At 43, Anand is ready to take on the challenge of World number one Magnus Carlsen — 21 years younger and the highest-rated man in chess history.
Amid intense preparations, Anand took time off to share his thoughts with The Hindu.
What were your first thoughts when Magnus Carlsen narrowly made it as the challenger ahead of Kramnik?
Kramnik was very unfortunate to lose out on the right to play. Like, in my tweet... Magnus pulls through.
Your reaction to Chennai being the venue and the added pressure that comes with it? In a battle of this nature, do you believe that there is something called ‘home advantage’?
I am not thinking much of it or analysing the pros or cons. This is a World championship match, you understand its importance.
If they said it’s the moon this time, you have to get ready to play.
Chennai will have its emotional ties, no doubt, but I think the match itself will be taking 100 % of my mind.
Carlsen has been your sparring partner while preparing for World championships in the past. How helpful was he?
We played a few training games. It was helpful to play blitz with him
In what ways is Carlsen different as a match player, as compared to your previous challengers — Kramnik, Topalov and Gelfand?
He is extremely tenacious. He tries to play out a position bare. Kramnik and Gelfand come from a certain school of chess and are principled.
Their chess knowledge is close to God and their styles are very exact.
Topalov plays every position very sharply. So he creates chances in both directions.
How challenging was preparing against Carlsen who plays all positions with ease?
I think every opponent steps up for the World championship match. Carlsen has had excellent results till now.
But in a match every opponent is the toughest.
Your form going into the previous World championship matches was not exactly great. This time, overall the performances have been better (except that stunning loss to Carlsen in your last encounter). Do you think that helps in any way?
Well, glad you noticed. I played a lot this year. I just wanted to try different tournaments and barring 3-4 games I was actually quite happy with my play.
At Tal (memorial tournament), I was just out of form. So no excuses really.
Now the focus is only the match. It doesn’t matter what you do before or after, really.