Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Anand: In Game 9 it hit me that it was my tournament to lose!
I have already started thinking about match against Carlsen: Viswanathan Anand
Susan Ninan, TNN | Apr 3, 2014, 01.51 AM IST
CHENNAI: Viswanathan Anand is back. After winning Candidates and earning the right to fight Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship, Anand returned to the city on Wednesday.
His sponsors had arranged for an interactive session with the media and the five-time world champion was clearly in the mood to oblige. The TV interviews seemed to go on for eternity, but he didn't mind. In the middle of all the chaos, he took some time off to have a chat with TOI.
You said you were 'pleasantly surprised' with the Candidates outcome?
Firstly, I went into the tournament with no expectations, so there was a certain lightness and I could experiment a bit more. During a strong event like this, there's no sense in making long-term plans. Every game is unpredictable and there could be three possible results. The other participants were a lot more nervous. It's not that they did not have good moments, but they had a lot more worse moments than me. In fact, I won three games, the same number as four others (Sergey Karjakin, Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Svidler), but I stayed undefeated, calm and focused, which eventually made the difference. Aronian was suffering from nerves and was clearly the tragic figure of the tournament.
What was the recovery process like post November and what moved you to play Candidates?
In a funny way, after a point you tend to think you own the World Championship and get used to that feeling. So when you lose, there are withdrawal symptoms that have to be dealt with. It was more important for me to recover emotionally than look into the technical aspects. It was not that I lost games because I was defensive, rather I was defensive because I was not getting the positions I wanted to. The Chennai match didn't motivate me in anyway. Maybe it would, if we just stopped discussing it. Between Christmas and New Year I had a week to myself and remember waking up one morning and thinking it would be insane not to play the Candidates.
It's 19 years between your two successful Candidates titles. Are you amazed by your own longevity?
I don't think I look at it in terms of longevity. Obviously I'm happy to able to still deliver good results and qualify for the World Championship again. Over the years, the approach towards chess has changed, the biggest difference being computers.
Your comments on the 91-move Game 13 against Karjakin?
Rustam Kazimdzhanov, my former second, was working with Karjakin so I knew he would be armed with a lot of insight into my game. I could sense a certain stiffness in his body language. I was telling myself that this wasn't going to be a short game.
When did you feel that a win was within touching distance?
In Game 9 it hit me that it was my tournament to lose. I had landed a 1.5 point lead and was the odds-on favourite. In Game 13, I was mathematically beyond reach. When you are winning, everything feels good. The food tastes better and the weather feels incredible even though the temperature is sub zero. I did not really follow what was written ahead of the Candidates and was pretty much clueless that I was far from being the favourite. Obviously, once you win, you can always laugh at the predictions! This result is like oxygen. Much hasn't changed though. The challenges are still there but I have more optimism, enthusiasm and positive emotions.
What do you make of the age argument and what were your preparations like?
Age is a factor, but it's certainly not the most decisive one. Sandipan (Chanda) was the lone second who worked with me during the tournament.