Anand in The Guardian: I found Bobby Fischer surprisingly normal and calm

12/2/2011 – A day before the start of the London Chess Classic the broadsheets are picking up on the chess event. For starters there is a nice interview with World Champion Vishy Anand, who is grilled on his preparation, on his most difficult opponents, on his encounter with Bobby Fischer, on his love for Monty Python and on age taking its toll. Entertaining, must-read interview.

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Excerpts

  • When preparing tournaments like London Anand takes as many hours a day – up to ten if needed – for preparation. Plus another two or three hours during the tournament.

  • He prepares physically mostly by running and doing weights. "Mainly it's to relieve yourself of tension, and to sleep soundly."

  • On facing Kasparov at his peak: "It's annoying – because first of all he makes good moves and on top of that there's all the other pressure he inflicts too. But what made Kasparov dangerous was his moves."

  • Anand met Fischer in 2006. "I found him surprisingly normal. Well, at least not very tense. He seemed to be relieved to be in the company of chess players. He was calm in that sense. He was also a bit worried about people following him, so the paranoia never really went away. But I am really happy I got the chance to meet him before he died in 2008. It was weird as well because I kept having to remind myself that this was Bobby Fischer sitting in front of me!"

  • On analysing with Fischer: He hadn't lost his sharpness for chess – but his methods were a bit dated. When I would tell him that the computer says White is winning here, for me that was a sign to move on – but for him it was a starting point to argue with me! I found it difficult to say to him 'No, no, no – these computers are really strong. You shouldn't be arguing with them!"'

  • Is he a Monty Python fan? Very much so.His favourites: the Parrot sketch, Michelangelo and the Pope, and the one where some Nazis are in an English hotel.

  • In response to a Twitter question: Grandmasters decline with age. That's a given. There is nothing special about the age of 40, but age eventually takes its toll. That much is clear. Beyond that it's about how long you can put off the effects and compensate for them. Mistakes will crop in but you try to compensate for them with experience and hard work.

  • On fatherhood: [With genuine emotion] It's amazing! For the first time I begin to understand my parents as well. It's an experience that really changes your life. I'm having a blast. He's eight months now and he's just started to stand up and babble a bit too.

  • Read the whole interview here in today's edition of The Guardian

Anand's favourites


The famous parrot sketch


Pope and Michaelangelo


In Morelia 2008 Anand
and Magnus Carlsen, also a Monty Python fan, were able to
reconstruct the Michaelangelo sketch almost verbatim


The lesser known "Mr. Hilter" sketch – fast forward to 1'25" for the good bits


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