Anand: A champion should play all formats

7/23/2008 – Is he still smarting over Vladimir Kramnik's recent attack? "I prefer not to give too much attention to interviews," said World Champion Viswanathan Anand. And what about the other claims and remarks? "I think analysing his games keeps me fairly occupied these days, I don’t want to start analysing his words." Anand spoke to Vijay Tagore in this DNA Sunday Interview.

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A champion should play all formats

Vijay Tagore

Sunday, July 20, 2008 04:08 IST

It is not Viswanathan Anand’s style to make controversial statements. He believes playing chess, across the board, not off it. When Garry Kasparov was slamming the door on him during the 1995 PCA World championship final in New York, the Indian Grandmaster, then a challenger to the ‘world champion’, chose not to whine. Now when Vladimir Kramnik, now a challenger to Anand’s crown, has launched an attack on his status as a world champion, Anand chose to ignore him too. Vijay Tagore finds out what effect Kramnik’s outburst has had on Anand. Excerpts:

Kramnik has made some strong remarks on Mexico world championship and some of them were trained at you. Do you see it as an attempt to psyche you ahead of your match in Bonn?

I prefer not to give too much attention to interviews. I think you should just play your chess and not find excuses. I understand that there will be a lot of out-of-the-board tactics and this could come under that category. I remember before and after Mexico also similar kind of rhetoric was used from their side.

He rubbished Mexico 2007 as a compromise.

As a champion you should learn to play all formats and accept the results. I think this topic has been discussed a lot. We have to get to the present situation. You don’t see Federer complain about Nadal winning Wimbledon. Nor do you have the debate whether a grass court player is a classical player and hence better. They play on different surfaces. One plays better than another on different surfaces. But you try to play your best on all courts.

Do you think Kramnik is yet to reconcile to the defeat in Mexico?

If there is an event called the World Championship and someone wins it he or she is the World Champion. You can’t suddenly find conditions that make them a lesser champion, if it doesn’t favour you. I played in Moscow 2001 and Ponomariov won. He rightfully has a claim to the title.

Is it binding that only match-play should decide a world champion, not a tournament play?

How to find a true World Champion is an enigma all chess players are very keen to solve. The tournament format seemed very just and interesting now we have a new format to find the World Champion. In my opinion a champion is someone who plays tournaments, shows his preparation, is unafraid of challenges and not too scared to put his title on the line. There is no use of a title if you play badly.

Kramnik claims to have saved the world chess from another split by taking part in Mexico.

I don’t know if that is the popular opinion. I think analysing his games keeps me fairly occupied these days, I don’t want to start analysing his words.

Is it case of being a bad loser?

No comment. Kramnik is a world class player and he will be a tough rival in October and that is what I will be focusing on. I am not really thinking of his past results or his interviews. He has shown he is a good match player and has played matches in the last few years.

He says the value of Mexico tournament is not as much as any classical match?

That’s his personal opinion. Both San Luis and Mexico were highly entertaining and produced some really good games. And we had a lot of decisive games. The question is not classical, rapid etc, it is what is relevant and entertaining.

He cited your none-too-impressive record against Kasparov. He says you were out-foxed by the big K.

Everyone has their nemesis. For me it was clearly Kasparov. I don’t think I want to make excuses for that. Kasparov, in spite of his explosive character, brought the game into the limelight. Now that we are not rivals I can say that Kasparov did try to promote the game on a global level. In a way players at the top should try to promote the game in their own countries as that is the legacy that makes you feel proud. If you have not done that you have failed as a sportsperson.

How is your preparation going?

Good so far.

You will be taking part in the Chess Grand Slam a month before the world championship. What could be the thinking?

I wanted some practical play before the match. Last year also I played in Mainz three weeks before Mexico.



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