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Updated: April 5, 2014 04:19 IST

When I play chess, I’m solving problems, having fun: Viswanathan Anand

Rakesh Rao
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Viswanathan Anand. Photo: R. Ragu
The Hindu
Viswanathan Anand. Photo: R. Ragu

Last November, three defeats over 10 games without victory against Magnus Carlsen robbed Viswanathan Anand of more than just the world title. The largely cynical world of chess was quick to write the five-time World champion off. With his pride seriously bruised, Anand suffered in silence.

Last month, three victories over 14 games without a defeat in an elite field earned Anand more than just a rematch against Carlsen. It restored his pride and brought back the respect of his critics and peers alike.

Despite his unparalleled consistency — he has been among the world top-10 since July 1991 — there has been no dearth of critics in Anand’s illustrious career.

When he did consistently well in tournaments, he was belittled for not doing well at the world championship. When Anand held the World title from 2007 to 2013, his detractors pointed to his lack of tournament success, accusing him of being concerned only with world-title matches and hiding his preparations while playing tournaments.

“Such statements are just one of those things floating around, and I have no idea where they come from. I’ve never withheld preparations from my tournaments. I would often say that my focus had been on the (world title) matches. I meant my mental focus. Not that I am playing second-rate stuff (in tournaments),” said Anand, on his return from Khanty Mansisyk (Russia).

“From my point of view, I can say that it is a very silly idea that I was holding something back (in tournaments). I would have gladly used all my ideas if I could. But, may be, my preparation for matches was so oriented towards one opponent that it was hard to find ideas that I could use against others.

“Or, perhaps, I was unable to focus on tournaments with the same intensity as matches.

“These are statements that I can live with. The one that I withheld something because I felt, in some way that playing tournaments like this was okay, I think it’s an insane idea,” Anand said.

Even though the criticism evidently hurt, Anand retained his sense of humour.

“I just think some of the explanations they come up with are reasonably good guesses, even if they are not correct. Some tend to be accurate but even I cannot see them,” he said.

“The point is, it doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter if they hit on something that might turn out to be a good explanation. I don’t particularly think the way you play chess is to solicit a second opinion. At least, that is not the way I play chess.

“When I play chess, I am solving problems, having fun.”

Finally, has Anand re-discovered himself?

“Well, one can go now and say all kinds of things. But I don’t see the point. I tell myself, just put it (the performance in Candidates) in the bank and keep playing well,” he said.

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For me Anand is the best sports person India has ever seen followed by Milkha Singh,
Dyan Chand and any number of cricketers one would like to add. The most humble,
the most talented and versatile player is a nation's pride. Whether any body
appreciates him or find faults with him, it does not bother. He is a true achiever. We
all should feel proud to watch his game and his achievement and not hear about his
exploits from a third person.

from:  Balasubramanian
Posted on: Apr 6, 2014 at 09:18 IST

I Genuinely think it is not for us, the lesser mortals to rate or criticize the success or failures of 'those that do the stuff'
Rather, let me put it this way, 'we should shut our mouths and mind our own business'!

from:  K.Prashant
Posted on: Apr 5, 2014 at 21:33 IST

If a guy says "anything could happen in the match" it means he does not anything about
chess nor has he been following the developments in the game. If Vishy wins the guy will say
"see I told anything can happen". If Carlsen wins again the guy will say "See I predicted..."
Ignorant men always play safe. Ha...ha....

from:  Chandier Ponnambalam
Posted on: Apr 5, 2014 at 18:49 IST

@V P Srikanth, I don't see any logical basis to your statement. All it does is show that you love this man called Vishy Anand. I am being more logical when I say that anything could happen in the rematch. To Magnus Carlsen fans that may sound illogical and they may claim that all my statement does is to show that I love this man called Vishy Anand. Which is true.

from:  joy
Posted on: Apr 5, 2014 at 16:42 IST

For me V Anand is rising from the ashes after is lack lusture performence against Magnus Carlsen. I think in his second chance he will defeat Magnus Carlsen to be the next champ

from:  V P Srikanth
Posted on: Apr 5, 2014 at 11:25 IST

Great sportsman and a role model. Congratulations on your come back.

from:  Magesh
Posted on: Apr 5, 2014 at 07:46 IST

V.Anand is a great champion from our country; a legend of world
chess;once in a way he may lose to a superior player; that's
acceptable; even Carlsen will be beaten by somebody one day;

from:  N.S.Venkatraman
Posted on: Apr 5, 2014 at 06:55 IST
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