Says Viswanthan Anand In An Interview
Viswanathan Anand is close to being called the king of knock out events. Exhibiting true class of the highest order he additionally remained undefeated to win the inaugural World Cup. The aim for a player in a knock out tournament is to survive and that is what Viswanathan Anand did by remaining undefeated in the 15 games.
First, he won the toughest Group D which boasted of the FIDE World Champion (Alexander Khalifman), European Champion (Pavel Tregubov), his club mate and member of the world elite group (Boris Gelfand), professional Vladislav Tkachiev. Then in the knock out stage he eliminated V. Ivanchuk 1.5-0.5, B.Gelfand 1-1, 1-1, 1.5-0.5 and E. Bareev 1.5-0.5 in the finals for one of his best tournament victories.
Q. Any difference between world champion and world cup champion?
A. It is the same format. You can play the world championship or a game for your club. Still it is a game of chess. If they announce this is the world championship, everybody takes it seriously and prepares accordingly. If you win that I think it is more creditable. This is the same format. Also a very tough tournament. Everybody will be more motivated in Delhi and Teheran. I will have my chances but it will be even tougher. But both are the same format.
Q. Which was your best moment in Shenyang?
A. Difficult to say. I had lot of good moments. The games with Gelfand, of course the final win today against Bareev. Actually it was a very nice game. I was quite relieved to win this game and finish first. I thought it may get into tie-breaks but it is nice to finish the match this way and probably even get some Elo because of this win.
Q. How do you value this event, victory. You had the cream of
world chess players from the world championship which you will have in
Delhi minus the few digits in prize money?
A. (laughs) As I said this tournament is certainly respectable in terms of prize money. You could see everybody was motivated. Like I said in Delhi and Teheran they will be more motivated because the winner will be called 'world champion' because prize money is much more. It would be even more creditable to win that. Certainly this is a great achievement. It shows I can take off in these events and win this.
Q. Is this some kind of warm up for missing Las Vegas?
A. (laughs) No, it is just a tournament. You should not read too much into every tournament. It is not like my whole life now revolves around Delhi. Obviously it is the big event now this year for me. Not that everything I do will be an aim to it. You must remember that these knock out formats are very upredictable. Of course I want to do well. I will go there play and hope for the best.
Q. Which was the toughest games here and did you have any easy
games at all?
A. Easy games? My game with Halif (Khalifman) was very tough. All these wins were hard fought. Halif, with Ivanchuk, with Gelfand and finally with Bareev. All were well fought. All came because I was sitting there and fighting. At certain point the points came. It wasn't easy.
Q. You had complaints about the pairings. Did it seem to matter
A. Not really complaints. I couldn't stop observing that all the top seeds somehow ended with me. This is not to say that other players are weak had I been in some other group or something. I felt that they could have distributed the seeds a little bit better.
Q. You did not lose a game. Is that
a good thing for a knock out?
A. It is always wonderful not to lose a game. This helps. I was in danger only once with Gelfand in the second game (of the semi-finals). I have not had time to analyse if afterwards. I guess I was in trouble. Certainly in a knock out tournament the winner deserves to win because he has to always put up with a lot and really overcome lot of difficulties. At the same time your performance in one knock out does not indicate you will win the next knock out. Because by nature it is a very unpredictable format. Delhi will be another hard fight. I will try.
Q. What did you expect in China and
what did you see? Did it live upto your expectations?
A. The facilities were excellent. I have no complaints. I was sad that we played so far away from the city. I was very keen to see China. So I got to see nothing of China. The hall is wonderful. They organised it very well. Once in a way you are bored you want to change your scenery. I have no complains but it would have been nicer if they would held it in the city. Again, that's a touristic perspective. I am not criticising them. For me, I have to do my tourism another time.
Q. For a country with 1.3 billion did you feel disappointed that
there were no spectators?
A.If you have it so far away from the town you just don't see how many spectators are going to come. But interest seems to be fairly high. When we went into Shenyang we could see that some people knew that we were from the chess tournament. Interest was high and the organisers seemed pleased. Again it is a problem that tournaments are held away from centres of cities that organisers hope that they get lots of hits on the internet.
Q. How do you see the future of the World Cup? This is the first
time they are doing it and the next one will be in India.
A. As far as I know it is not confirmed. They are going to start looking (for a sponsor). It is an interesting format. Certainly it can be improved upon. But that is another story.
Q. Is this event just a delight for professional like you?
A. It is not bad. I would hate to play only world cups. It is nice to play normal tournaments also. In these tournaments, when they go well you feel great. An accident (defeat) can happen you know. It is a very short tournament and one mistake and you are out. And if you got out, leave after three days, it is an empty feeling. It is a bit tricky to play these tournaments all the time. I don't know if I will play all of them. I might play the odd one.
Q. World Cup is not new to chess. We had the GMA (Grand Masters
Association) World Cup series in 1988-91. With two world champions, do
you think a World Cup champion adds confusion to a lay man?
A. No, not at all. As long as it is consistently implemented there is no harm trying to recover what we lost. I think the GMA World Cup was a great series of tournaments. It is a pity it got sidetracked. In fact after two editions it stopped. I think it is a very nice effort to revive it.
Q. Should we call it with some other name like satellite event
or Grand Prix event instead?
A. I think this doesn't really help the public. Almost everything is heard these days, a Grand Prix or a Grand Slam or a circuit or a Cup or a...I don't think it is very important. Probably they should call it a world tournament champion. As long as they call it a world tournament champion I don't see a reason for a confusion. The title of world champion is already in confusion in chess, unfortunately.
Q. How would you like to compare this victory with your victories
of Linares 1998 and Groningen 1997 or would you consider it unique?
A. Difficult to say. You can compare it with Groningen, because it is the same format. Atleast after a point. Already in Groningen everybody is already even more motivated. This is a kind of creditable victory. Everybody really wanted to win because of the first prize. It was a nice victory but I would probably rate Groningen 1997 a bit higher. Nevertheless, it is an important victory. It is the start of a new series. It is nice to be the first winner.
Q. What did we see new from you on your chess side?
A. I don't think you saw something radically new. Basically any time in a knock out event you are willing to sit there and fight. Fight all the way. If you can't do it in the regular games do it in the tie-breaks. You could see it against Gelfand I was proud of this and quite tenacious that I outclassed him.
Q. FIDE seems to have woken up with events like these. Asia seems
to bail out FIDE each time. Do you think it is time FIDE does something
in Africa and South America?
A. It's nice. In general I think they should go with the popularity. Certainly they must encourage South Americans and Africans. If you remember 15 years ago Campomanes (former FIDE President) spent a lot of time in Asia trying to get these people active. You should give him some credit for this. Fifteen years later we are seeing some of the results of his work in the region. For what you criticise him for what he did in Europe you credit him with the activity in Asia. I think FIDE should encourage everybody into doing much more and you must remember that some regions will always do better than the others.
Q. This is about the organisers in Shenyang. Which did you like
the most of what they did and did you have any dislikes?
A. In general I have positive things to say. Certainly the facilities were excellent. They made excellent arrangements. I can't really criticise them. On a personal note I would have liked to see little bit of the city. This is not a criticism, their job is to put together a good tournament and they did that.
Q. Imagine you are running the affairs of the Indian Chess Federation.
How would you attract a player like Anand into the Olympiad team of 2002?
A. I don't really want to get into that. Basically I find the format of the Olympiad very unattractive. This Swiss tournament stuff. It is just a lottery. After two weeks there, it really comes down to the fourteenth round. There are teams which get some weak opponent in the last round. Then they get 4-0, you shoot up and have a creditable performance for the whole Olympiad. My problem is always the same. I would gamble a lot of Elo (rating) just to play one fourteenth round game and something like that.
Q. What is the strike rate to lock on the line which actually
happens at the board to what players like you prepare the previous day?
What is the chance of not getting the line you fear the most?
A. In general it (to lock on) must be quite low. Very rarely you get the line you prepare against somebody unless both sides are aiming for it. Like these Najdorf clashes between me and Gelfand (tie-break, game one). I was aiming for the white side and he was aiming for the black side. Then you will get it. Very often you prepare a special line for one side or the other unless your judgement is really wrong or your opponent's judgement is really wrong you will come to the same conclusion that you did and avoid that line. If you think it is very good for you you will aim for it. Probably your opponent should also come to the same conclusion that it is good for you and not for him. Then he will avoid it. In general preparation only helps you avoid traps like this. Even though you get a completely new position, it doesn't mean your preparation was wasted. Because you avoided all the pitfalls on the way. And that's really the way you should see it.
Q. What are you going to tell the Olympic athletes at Sydney
A. I am going to try and show them that chess is a very exciting game. That it is a sport in every sense of the word. That would be a nice compliment to the future summer games.
Q. How are you going to go about your preparation for the World
Championship at Delhi/Teheran from November 25?
A. At some point start preparing I will check the openings. the usual stuff. I have prepared the openings for Delhi more or less. Prepare some reserve openings. Check how everybody plays. This kind of format you know I have to look at their games from Vegas and Groningen. Also I will try to get into physical shape. It really takes a lot on your nerves.
Q. Where are you doing this preparation? In India or Spain or
in a special location like you did before Groningen?
A. I will do it in India and Spain.
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