Anand on the match, returns to Chennai to a two crore welcome

by ChessBase
6/4/2012 – Two days after successfully defending his World Championship title in Moscow Viswanathan Anand spoke at length and with considerable frankness to the Indian TV station NDTV about the match and the criticism that had been levelled against him. He then flew back to his home town of Chennai in Southern India to a tumultuous welcome and a special cash prize from the government. TV reports.

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The World Chess Championship 2012 was staged in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, between the current World Champion Viswanathan Anand of India and the winner of the Candidates tournament Boris Gelfand of Israel. The match was over twelve games plus tiebreak, and lasted from May 11 to 30. It was won by Anand in the tiebreak. The prize fund was US $2.55 million, which was split 55/45 (instead of originally 60/40) amongst the two players because the match went to tie-breaks.

Viswanathan Anand hits back at his critics

Click on the above image to watch the interview – fast forward to four minutes and 25 seconds for the start

07:30 – I don't think I lacked motivation, I think you have to give full credit to my opponent Gelfand. He never let me get the kind of play that I like, and that is very frustrating, because you like to play in a certain way, but Gelfand neutralised almost everything I did, and so I had to cope with that. It is no secret that I have had difficulties in a couple of tournaments, and that my confidence therefore suffered a little bit. But I think that under the circumstances, if you can hang in there and win like this, then it's all the more satisfying.

08:15 – On the final tie-break day, during the first game I had the feeling that the tide was turning, because for the first time with Black I managed to get a very exciting position and managed to almost beat him. But still the match was very intense – it went back and forth in game three and four of the tie-break, where he had very good chances. It was much harder like this...

08:50 – I think that all the people who started out assuming that I was the heavy favourite in this match were reluctant to admit that their prognosis was wrong. I never saw myself as a favourite. I knew that Gelfand would be a very difficult opponent, and looking at his recent play I understood that this is exactly how the match would go. So I never felt that I had to answer after every game what was going wrong, because nothing was going wrong. This was Gelfand playing well, and me trying to play equally well and hang in there and wait for my chance. So all the people who said that I was a favourite were reluctant to admit that they were wrong and were simply saying that I lacked the motivation and was playing badly and on and on. I definitely feel like I have proved something here.

10:05 – The first shock was game seven. A loss is always a bad thing, but it is much worse in a match where you are struggling to get any openings, you are struggling to find any weakness you can target, to find something to aim for. In those circumstances to lose the seventh game was an incredibly difficult blow. I really suffered that evening. The eighth game was the first game I played without getting any sleep. But it was the turning point, when I managed to come back. I had prepared myself for a great struggle in the Gruenfeld, which was his main opening for this match. But he did something else and something went wrong with his concept. Rather than sitting on his lead he was trying to double it. I managed to equalise that, and I knew that in the last four games I would have to be patient, but at least I could start on even terms.

11:16 – But at every press conference they keep asking you, are you motivated – it is very frustrating, because you feel you are giving your all and people can't see it. The most important thing was not to let any of this affect you and to stay focussed on the match. And most importantly to be patient, because if you lose your patience, if you snap first and thow something away nobody gives you credit for trying. They just day well he didn't have the strength to hang in there. I tried to prove that I could wait as long as Boris, keep fighting and luckily on the tie-break I proved it.

15:50 – I think this time [my wife Aruna] suffered as much as I did. It was a very long and tense match, and when you are tense it is very difficult to be around. She helped me absorb some of the problems and recover, and she is a big source of support for the whole team.

16:57 – It was a very tense match, and even before it started we expected a very close struggle. Gelfand is a very tough rival and his style of play is very classical. Game seven was a very difficult moment for Anand, both chess wise and personally. The way he came back in game eight is actually something he should be very proud of. It was very difficult to play the next day, because you are emotionally drained and you feel that your chances of winning the match are slowly becoming close to zero. And at that moment you strike back and strike back in a very stylish manner, it helps your confidence a lot. So game eight was a very special moment in the match. Going into the tie-breaks we understood that anything might happen. After game one we felt reasonably confident, and game two worked out very well.

I think critics have a right to criticise, the question is whether you pay heed to their criticism or not. If you are enjoying what you are doing and giving it your all I think you shouldn't really bother what critics will say. Some of the criticism could be justified, but I think when a world championship is at stake you understand that both players are going to give it everything they have, because at the end of the match there is only one person who goes home happy. And that is the highest motivation you can ever have.

21:12 – We played against each other just once. He drew with me. I think it was more for marital peace than anything else.

Anand arrives in Chennai, receives special prize of Rs. two crores

Click on the above screen shot to view the short report on Anand's return to Chennai

Towards the end of the report Anand thanks the Chief Minister or Chennai, J. Jayalalithaa, for a "sanctioning a cash reward of Rs. two crores" for the champion. A "crore" in the South Asian numbering system is ten million, or 100 lakhs ("Lakhs" you ask? A lakh is a hundred thousand.). Two crores is 290,000 Euros or US $360,000 – not a bad bonus, in fact almost cricket-like in the amount.


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