29 April 2009

Anand on Chess

The last time I featured interviews in a post was on the 2010 Candidates at the beginning of the year. Since then there have been many good interviews worth documenting, but the series on World Champion Anand that ran on Chessbase.com from February to April was exceptionally good. Here are links with excerpts that I particularly liked. • Location: Chennai; Date: 26th December 2008; Interviewers: Sriram Srinivasan and Jaideep Unudurti.
  • From square one to the World Championship in BonnQ: How would an ideal chess economy look like? A: I think in general it’s a fairly good system. We have tournaments at every level. I think once you make your mark, some way or the other, either you become the best player of your country or you become one of the best in the world. In the case of Russia you could be number eight in Russia and could still have some work to do before you’d be the first choice. I think the system as it is now, as long as it stable, we are back to the system of having only one world championship; that is very good for the game. And now lots of new countries are turning up. There is a Norwegian, Magnus Carlsen, who is fourth in the world, there is an Italian, there is an Armenian, there is a Ukrainian. So already the top ten is looking very diverse and nice. Which is a very interesting face to present to the world. So I think the system is healthy. Now if we keep the stability of the world championship and grow it from here it will be very healthy.

  • Chess as a profession and on computersQ: When was the first time you started using a computer in your chess preparation? A: 1988. It was a computer I had here at home. At the end of 1988 I bought a laptop. [...] I would say I was there right in the very beginning. The first database appeared in 1986 but even then it wasn’t really useful. Maybe Kasparov beat me by a few months. He was world champion already so he might have beaten me by a few months to it. But I was there at the very beginning. So I have used computers from the time they appeared in chess.

  • On intuition, creativity and blitz chessQ: Botvinnik became the champion in 1948. You beat Kramnik, a student of his in 2008. There is no other comparable Russian star. Is the Russian era over? A: Far from it. I think they are going through a brief rough patch. But still by many measures they are the leading chess country on earth. That’s not bad, given they had so many bad years recently. I think simply the rest of the world is catching up. If you compare any single country with Russia they are still ahead on everything.

  • On the World Championship in BonnQ: The biggest bombshell in the [Kramnik] match was you playing 1.d4. You have been a life-long e4 player. Switching to d4, they say that it requires a certain “feel” for the positions, an intuitive understanding. You don’t have that much experience in playing d4, so did you worry about that? A: It was a problem and I went into it with quite some trepidation. You have a feeling that you may make a complete fool of yourself. Every game you will play, you’ll play your preparation and then in the middle-game because of unfamiliarity with certain structures you will make errors of judgement. That fear was in the back of my head. Last November I decided to play d4 and not to revisit this decision. I’m going to play it, I decided, and told my team now you can start working on d4, this is the stuff you have to cover and I’m not going to second-guess it. It is very easy to start second-guessing and there can be no way to finish this discussion. I’m happy I stuck with it; it went much better than I hoped for. I had no difficulties, but somewhere in the back of my head I did have this worry.

Fischer once said of Euwe, 'There’s something wrong with that man. He’s too normal.' He could also have been talking about Anand.

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