Anand: ‘A magical finish to 2017’

The recent triumph at the World rapid chess championship (and the bronze in blitz) in Riyadh, showed how much the legend loves the sport.

Viswanathan Anand revolutionised Indian chess, and at 48 years of age, he continues to evoke awe and respect in equal measure.   -  R. ASHOK

Viswanathan Anand revolutionised Indian chess, and at 48 years of age, he continues to evoke awe and respect in equal measure. In the process, the Grand Master has reinvented himself yet another time.

The recent triumph at the World rapid chess championship (and the bronze in blitz) in Riyadh, showed how much the legend loves the sport.

Speaking to Sportstar here on Monday, the multiple world champion, said he was still “floating”.

“Now, I am quite euphoric. Winning the rapid title meant really a lot. First of all, it not only meant a comeback to world title, but also a comeback to rapid chess. The next two-three days I will be floating,” said Anand. Excerpts from the interview:

Question: How was the reception at the Chennai airport?

Answer: The reception was nice. Lots of people congratulated me. Then, I got to celebrate the New Year’s eve with my friends.

How was it to win the world rapid title after doing it in 2003 defeating Vladimir Kramnik?

A lot has happened then and now. There has been a lot of changes in the format. I have struggled in rapid chess in recent times. It’s a joy having a world title again.

How was 2017 overall for you?

I had some good events and quite a few bad ones. The London Classic was terrible. There was no expectation, just turn up and play chess. Sometimes, bad results freeze you. I was tired after a lot of travel. Every once in a while you need something like this. Emotionally something like this recharges your battery. It’s nice to say ‘I believe in myself, I have confidence in myself.’ Some validation from time to time is good. Having said that, every tournament you slog it out. I will try to rest as much as possible, and play in the Tata Steel tournament from January 12 to 28.

How will you prioritise tournaments now?

My own experience shows you can never tell which tournaments you are going to do well, and which ones you are going to do badly. I will go with my nerves. There is nothing to prioritize.

How will you describe 2017 in a nutshell?

It was just a magical finish. A gold in rapid and a bronze in blitz would have been good at the end of any year.

Beating Magnus Carlsen for the first time in World rapid after losing to him in the 2013 World championship in Chennai must have been special too...

Yes, it was very nice since he is the highest-ranked rapid player in the world. That was just amazing. I had made some mistakes in the World championship in Sochi in 2014. There I missed a tactical opportunity.

What was your mindset during the play-off match against Vladimir Fedoseev?

It happened in seconds. If you ask me what I did, I don’t know. The arbiter told us the match will start in five minutes. You will be playing. You walk up and down, but your brain is empty. There isn’t much time to organise, or time to prepare.

How did your six-year-old son Akhil react?

He was sleeping when I came home. Next morning he was telling me ‘world champion again!’

There are reports that you will be taking part in the Chess Olympiad this year in Georgia after a long absence.

I have still not decided. Hopefully, I will play.