Bring on Kasparov says Anand

by ChessBase
11/1/2008 – That is just one of hundreds of headlines in Indian newspapers and web news agencies. There are interviews and video reports by Indian journalists who were in Bonn for the World Championship match. Anand's parents speak, and wife Aruna admits she is not the only woman behind Anand’s success. We bring you links and excerpts from the most interesting of these effusive reports.

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Bring on Kasparov says Anand

Interview by Vijay Tagore

Vishy Anand is surprised that it turned out to be a one-sided world championship. Minutes after drawing the 11th game with Vladimir Kramnik, thus retaining the title, the Indian Grandmaster spoke to Vijay Tagore. Excerpts:

What did you do right?

I took some risks. It was a gamble which paid off handsomely. I knew he would work on my 1.e4 (King Pawn Opening). I decided to go for 1.d4 (Queen Pawn). All his preparation on e4 was wasted. I don’t think it was a surprise for him because he prepared for d4 too. But I could still put some pressure on him with queen pawn. The other thing was I prepared some sharp and interesting stuff with the black pieces. It was a fantastic concept. I could post two convincing wins with black. It paid off big time.

Were you surprised that the match was one-sided?

Yes. Kramnik never lost three games in a row.

How much of an effort was it to win the world title?

It drains you. It took a lot of effort and energy. I can tell you the last three days have been very intense. I could have finished the game three days before. In fact, the last half point took me as much effort as the first six points. I had to think of the tenth game defeat one whole day. It was a slow boil. It was a huge relief when Kramnik offered me the draw today.

Did the tenth game loss remind you off Sanghinagar?

Not really though I should admit that at some stage it certainly crossed my mind. The things were different. I had a three-point advantage and I was sitting pretty.

Which was the most satisfying win?

I won the third and fifth games with black pieces. Even my win in the sixth game with white was very satisfying, but nothing can compare the satisfaction of today’s draw. It was the most satisfying moment.

What was the turning point?

The three-point lead has to be the turning point. To be more precise, I think the second win (in game five) was a kind of turning point.

You out-prepared Kramnik? Right?

I think so. It took us a lot of preparation. We were able to control the direction of the match. Particularly in the first half. In the second half, he definitely caught up and put a lot of pressure.

Kramnik said a few nasty things before the match. Did that fire you up?

Well, you can imagine what I would have had to listen to if I had lost the match. When you see such things, it has to give some extra motivation. I’m happy that I will not have to listen to such things any more.

You lost badly in Bilbao, just before the Bonn match. Did you hold back your cards there?

It was disappointing but I knew I would not be able to focus completely. I was not holding back my cards, but I was not able to play the 1.d4 move. In the scheme of things I could put aside that disappointment.

You think you have answered your critics, particularly from Russia, who say you can’t win matches?

Yeah. I think I will not have to listen to such stuff any more. This result will take care of that.

You have won in all formats — rapid, knockout and match. You agree that there is no player more complete than you?

I personally see no fault with any format. But having won in all formats, I can put forth the claim to be the complete player.

Are you thinking of Topalov or Kamsky?

Right now I’m only thinking of celebrating.

Will you demand a rematch privilege which has been given to past champions?

I don’t think I will do that ever. But I have not really thought about it. At the moment I’m too exhausted to think of such things.

Why were you both dope-tested after the match?

It was not necessary but it was a rule set up by FIDE and we have to follow the regulation. It was some kind of electronic testing.

Who do you give credit to for this win?

A lot of people. My family and especially my wife Aruna who has been working like crazy. The whole year she has been doing all the negotiations and dealings. Then my team – Peter Heine Nielsen, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Surya Shekhar Ganguly. These guys had done a fantastic job. While I was sleeping, these guys were working till six and seven in the morning.

You have beaten everyone except Kasparov. Regrets?

It will be great if he changes his mind and comes out of the retirement. I will definitely give it a shot. It will be very exciting to play him again.

Are you too exhausted for the Olympiad?

I’m definitely not playing the Olympiad. After all this work I’m too tired and exhausted.

You have won everything. Is the fire still left in the belly?

It is still there. But I will think about it later. Right now my mind is working on other things.

Finally, what’s Vishy Anand’s legacy to chess?

I don’t know. I’m not thinking about that yet. Today we’re in a celebratory mood.

There is a nice Reuters video report on the final moments of the match

In the video you can see Kramnik offering the draw whily playing his final move. Anand then stretches out his hand, Kramnik shakes it. Anand wants to retract his hand but Vladimir clasps it with both hands in sincere congratulation. Very nice indeed.

Anand's triumph on the sports pages of Indian broadsheets

Rediff News celebrates with a dozen and a half articles

Chennai Online has articles and interviews with Anand's parents

There are a series of video interviews by Vijay Kumar on NDTV

An interview with youthful fans in Chennai

"I’m not the only woman behind Anand’s success"

Ankita Pandey and Vijay Tagore

How did Viswanathan Anand do it? Ankita Pandey and Vijay Tagore try to find the secret while chatting with wife Aruna, who is also his manager. Excerpts:

You should know this best. What it takes to be a world champion?

Lots of hard work and patience and the ability to rise above oneself. Anand consciously keeps away from controversy and politics. At times this has been very expensive for his career. But rather than complaining Anand would try to just play his chess.

For example, in 2002 there was a plan to have a world championship and in that scheme only player who got a bad deal was Anand. He was unfairly kept out. It was a very difficult moment for us. We went for a holiday and came back and Anand said the only thing I can do is play my chess and enjoy it. He went on to win two chess Oscars in 2003 and 2004. This was some of the happiest moments of our life.

When did the Bonn preparation start?

Before Mexico we understood that Kramnik would have the privilege to get a match irrespective of what happened in there. It didn’t feel right but Anand said let me win Mexico and only then do I need to worry. He played some of his best chess in Mexico and won. Then within an hour the talk about the Kramnik match started. I really felt bad but Anand said I would like to play a match and not have a career where I haven’t got the chance and moreover I want to do something different.

“Not for winning the match but when I look back at my career I want to feel proud that I played d4.” He risked and played something. It was when Anand said this, it really impacted me. It was at that moment we decided that we would give Bonn all that it takes and the whole Team Anand rose to the occasion. In Anand’s case, he never got a privilege and never tried to reason with his critics. He just said I will play and win and the rest takes care of itself. It is a quality that is very special not only in a champion but in a person.

Does the privilege of being the world champion come with a baggage?

Of course it raises the level. But Anand has been among the Top 3 since 1996. So he has been able to keep the pressure and play well. He is someone who doesn’t get too influenced by ratings and numbers. He likes to enjoy the game.

He will try out different formats. He will try new variations take risks. In 2001, he understood that if you tried to hold on to your title you lose it some other way. You have to have the confidence of rising up to the challenge constantly.

You are his manager. How do you manage his affairs?

It was just a matter of convenience. Anand has a professional manager in Chennai who takes care of his endorsements and appearances. I take care of his tournaments and all the travel. In Bonn we had a close team of Hans Walter and Frederic and myself.

Our job was first to make a list of what Anand wanted and see that we provided him with that. At no point was Anand to find that he needed something. In fact, the negotiations started within 24 hours after Mexico and from the beginning we tried to get conditions that we thought were necessary.

Keeping in mind that the match was organised by some of Kramnik’s closest friends and the organisation had members who were also Kramnik’s managers. We had to work doubly hard so that Anand felt comfortable.

How difficult is managing a world champion’s affairs?

It is fun. The greetings and wishes. Sometime people say why couldn’t he win before we can’t take the tension. There is a lot of travel a lot of fun. Anand and me have an ability to laugh off most things. So it’s nice at the end of the day when the whole team sat together and told each other how the three weeks had passed. It makes everything worth it.

What are your duties and responsibilities?

Basically putting Anand in a bubble. His only focus is chess.The logistics of travel, press and other obligations are just taken off his back.

How do you handle his moods — post win and post defeat?

Victory is always easy to handle. But in Bonn when he went three points up we understood that Kramnik would now show his true prowess and we expected at least one game could go badly. Before every game we would ensure Anand was confident at the board. His team put in an extraordinary effort. They would sleep only when Anand played so they gave 100 per cent. Before the game I would just tell him to be calm.

How did he handle the tenth game loss?

After he lost his tenth game I went back stage and Anand looked very calm. The only thing he said I should nail this in the next game. The team also just decided to forget the game. They had expected one game at least where Kramnik would get in his novelty and the move Re1 was very difficult to solve on the board.

In fact we were extremely calm. Normally when Anand loses, the first hour is the most difficult and then you realise that you have to play the next day. But saying that the last three days were difficult. We found it difficult to sleep and understood that the half point meant a lot more.

How does he cope with the criticism and the praise?

He generally takes both well. He doesn’t really bother too much about what people say. At the end of the day you have to be happy with yourself. The rest doesn’t matter. During the match he hadn’t checked mail or the internet. So after winning he enjoyed a bit of ego surfing!

Is there any particular defeat that rankles him?

Anand has a terrific memory but he also has this ability to block out memories that are painful. Many times if you ask him about to something that was painful he would say he doesn’t remember much.

Is there any particular win that you both remember and enjoy?

Every win is special. Ok Bonn is big.

Finally, you are the woman behind Anand’s success?

There have been many women! First Anand’s mother who introduced him to the game. Then there is Nieves Perea. She was Anand’s de facto Spanish mother. She doted on Anand more than her own children. When Anand was alone in Europe she would ensure Anand never missed home. When I married Anand and went to Spain she became my de facto mother in law too. We really miss her and it’s a pity she died in 2004 and could not see Anand climb the highest rungs of his career.

Anand and me are a team. We try to be there for each other. All of us family and friends ensure that Anand feels comfortable in the event but the hard work and the chess is Anand’s. If he didn’t do that, the jigsaw puzzle would be incomplete.

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