"Unification is very good for the chess world"

ARVIND AARON

FORMER world chess champion Viswanathan Anand is hungry for success again as evident by his success in the Eurotel World chess championship which he won at Prague.

Overcoming five tough rivals in 12 games, Anand made an impressive comeback after losing his world chess title in December 2001 at Moscow and a below par performance at Linares 2002.

-RAJEEV BHATT

Success in rapid chess sparks Anand's comebacks in classical chess time and again and it has given the required boost to his morale. The year is filled with a long rapid chess calendar and Anand should enjoy himself.

Anand, in Prague, replied to questions from The Sportstar in an exclusive e-mail interview:

Question: Congratulations. What does this latest victory mean to you?

Answer: It's a great victory and its timing couldn't have been better. The upward trend in my play was evident in Dubai itself (after the loss!), but to go through an event like this (let's remember, this was the top 32 in the world) without a defeat is really a morale-booster.

Is this to be treated as a rapid success or a classical victory?

This was simply a victory in a super event. On top of that, I played both time controls in the event!

Which success would you compare this with or would you call it unique?

I would obviously rate my world championship event higher, but it's very satisfying that Kasparov and Kramnik were not absent!

What special preparation did you make for this event?

To be honest, I did hardly any preparation. I was hungry for chess again.

Which was your best moment in the five games and which was the most difficult one?

The win against Karpov was my "cleanest kill" (hardly any errors on my part) and the whole match with Ivanchuk was difficult.

Was adjusting from rapid chess to classical difficult?

Yes, but then again, we both had lots of time to do it in. Funnily enough, my White win against Karpov was longer than the whole match against Ivanchuk (four games).

How was it to play an in-form Karpov?

He was in very good form, but I could also feel the wind in my sails and I really wanted to finish the job.

Many thought you should have gone for a victory in the second game too in the finals?

Maybe it was a kind of release after all the tension, but neither of us noticed that his last move was a blunder - otherwise he was OK. What's more unusual - that he makes a bad move and offers a draw based on an oversight or that I accept it because of the same oversight?

Does the unified chess world really stand to help top players? In 1994, Kramnik, Kamsky, Adams and you played in two cycles instead of one and possibly earned twice as much money?

Unification is very good for the chess world. That is clear. Also, it is only realistic to play two cycles if you think of it as an insurance policy against failure. Otherwise, you have to concentrate on one.

Does the unification help anybody other than Kasparov and Kramnik?

Unification is good for the chess world, but of course in the interim period of two years, they are the main beneficiaries. Also, it remains to be seen how the "unified" chess world after 2004 functions - the same chaos as the 80s or something better.

How did you find Prague and the Czech Republic? You are playing there for the first time?

It is a really beautiful city and I had a great time. We even managed to do some sight-seeing on the last day.

You had a very stable performance after the "accident" against Azmaiparashvili in Dubai which spoilt your show there?

I felt my chess was back on track there even though the result wasn't perfect.

Now that you have regained self-confidence, expectations are going to be high from your fans in the coming rapid and advanced chess season...

It is important for me to stay calm and focussed. However, a success like this is great for one's morale.