Less than a day after retaining the world chess title, Viswanathan Anand was eagerly looking to catch some sleep. “More than anything else, I need some rest. After a point, the tension gets to you. So right now, I am looking forward to lots of sleep.”
After a job well done, a relieved Anand took some time for The Hindu and reflected on the Bulgarian challenger Veselin Topalov, several key moments of the match, the preparation that went into the contest and much more.
On the match strategy: In one sense, I think, I misjudged him. He made certain changes during the match. One of the things we assumed was, he always likes moving around in matches.
This means, he'll play an opening for a couple of games and then move on to the next one. His match strategy in the past was never to stand his ground. Kind of hit-and-run strategy.
So, whether consciously or sub-consciously, we had made this assumption the basis of our preparation. But he stood his ground. He did not switch his openings.
We started having problem in the second half because we were thin in the areas he had concentrated on. And we ourselves were doing the hitting and running. So there was some coping there.
In terms of the opening preparation, we made some bad calls. The team did some excellent work but in a match it is not about excellent work but making the right judgement call. If you prepare something and it does not get played, it is not much use. So in that sense, he did surprise me.
On the difficult phase of the match: I missed a few. Game 7 to 10 were very difficult for me. I felt he started taking the match initiative during this phase.
In Game 8, he did press me; he had a good idea and all, but having escaped, and then to blunder and lose was bad. And in Game 10, when I was losing, I thought that, after the last three games, if I were to lose and fall behind, it would be very difficult (to bounce back).
On the final game: I think Topalov took a big gamble. Now it seems obvious to me that this gamble was wrong. I realised he missed my queen move but still, when my bishop is on the big diagonal like that, and to allow me to open it, he took the decision very late.
On dealing with the loss in the opening game: It was one of those ridiculous moments that you are not supposed to have but it happens. The only thing I told myself was if it had to happen, it is best to happen in the first round. You still have time to recover. I knew it would be a long match. I was not worried at that point. But it was the worst possible start to the match.
On winning Game 2 and 4: Topalav was plucky. He was doing a fine job out of the opening but made a mistake. I pounced and made some very accurate moves. I mean, technically, it is still difficult but I managed to wrap it up in some six or seven moves from this point. I thought it was efficient. Game 2 was important because it helped me equalise.
Game 4 was nice. It was just a beautiful game. Some lovely tactics.