Viswanathan Anand relieved with a ‘much lighter’ 2020 calendar

Anand says he will skip four or five tournaments this year, including the Grand Chess Tour.

Viswanathan Anand finished joint-sixth in the last tourney he participated in, the Tata Steel Masters in Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands.   -  Getty Images

He has been struggling to recreate his magic on 64 squares of late but giving up is not yet an option for five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand.

Anand is relieved for a “much lighter” 2020; he will skip four or five tournaments this year, including the Grand Chess Tour.

Anand could not qualify for the Candidates 2020 and had a below-par outing at the Tata Steel Masters chess tournament last month, finishing joint sixth with Anish Giri, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Alireza Firouzja. “The thoughts of giving up comes up but at least this year, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m looking forward to playing the events that I have,” Anand told PTI on the sidelines of his book launch ‘Mind Master’, co-authored by journalist Susan Ninan.

“I don’t think about it a lot. The qualification cycle is very unpredictable so, I always figure if I qualify for something then I’ll worry about it but there’s no point thinking about it you know two stages earlier,” Anand, who has now slipped to 15 in the rankings, said.

Not disappointed

Anand, however, said he did not have any regrets on missing out on the world championship bid. “No, why should I? No, not at all. If there was, it was briefly last year but it was already clear in October that I wasn’t challenging and that’s it. I have accepted that and moved on.”

“If I do it, it’s fine. But I have already won the title five times. So why should I be disappointed?”

Here in the city as part of “Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet,” Anand wants to spend time with his family and skip the qualification events and the Grand Chess Tour.

“This year it looks like it’ll be a much lighter year. I will not play the GCT events I will not play about four or five events less than last year to start off and then there is already the qualification events. I will not play something like Isle of Man and so on. So it’s a much lighter year. I decided that’s nice. There are many years I wish I was playing less and so this year, you know, let’s take advantage of it. Even if you’re playing few tournaments, you still want to do well. So I’ll try to train a lot and get ready for them,” he said.

Bright future

After Anand, there is only Vidit Gujrathi and P. Harikrishna among Indians within the 2700-mark in the ratings, but the chess wizard believes the future of Indian chess is bright. “If you look at our current crop of youngsters, I think we have a very good future. [Nihal Sarin, R. Praggnanandhaa, D. Gukesh and Raunak Sadhwani] are all under 15. That means also they’ve got a lot of time to fulfil their potential and I’m hopeful they will,” Anand said.

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“What is really happening is that the chess world is very competitive nowadays. So a lot of people fighting for every qualification sport, every tournament and as a result, it’s very hard. Hari Krishna came up to the top-20 and he’s still doing well. Vidit a bit further behind, but still a 2700 player.”


Anand said he was shocked by the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant who died in a helicopter crash last month along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. “The worst thing is that probably what he’s thinking when the chopper is going down. It must be an awful feeling for a father to be in that situation. If you think about it, it’s really horrible. I followed his career in the Lakers and all and he’s a huge legend in basketball. And the story is just very tragic. First of all him but his daughter was there as well,” he said.

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Anand further spoke about his autobiography and said his former seconds — including Surya Sekhar Ganguly and Peter Heine Nielsen — liked the book. “A lot of people said it was very frank. What’s the point of trying to be diplomatic and skirt these issues? You just say what you want. And that’s probably the feedback that I enjoyed the most. If someone thought that they got some insight into you that they didn’t have earlier than I thought, well, mission accomplished.”

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