44-year-old Indian star Anand has had a rocky ride since the match in Chennai last November. He showed glimpses of his old strength in the early stages of the London Chess Classic before suffering a knock-out blow against Vladimir Kramnik. It was harder to put a positive spin on the Zurich Chess Classic (5th out of 6 in both the blitz and overall standings), but as Anand explained, his thoughts are focused on preparation for the Candidates Tournament next month in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
The interview with The Sunday Standard was conducted over e-mail by Ashok Venugopol. Some highlights included:
In the London Chess Classic you began to win again, but managed to reach only till quarterfinals. When you won the first match (after the World Championship loss) in the tournament did you get over a psychological barrier? How do you rate your performance?
At this level of the game, there are no barriers. You have good games and bad ones. I would say moderately happy. I was very proud of my games in the qualifying. I could feel myself like a six-year-old again, just playing very fast and confidently. That is the way I would really love to play.
At Zurich, in perhaps the strongest field in the history of the game, you came fifth overall. How do you rate this performance? You are known for your rapid skills, but lost three games?
Well, I am going through a phase of changing my game. So there will be some hits on the way before you reach your optimum form. So, Zurich was a good learning experience.
Is there a mental block when playing Carlsen? You are yet to beat him in the classical format in the last two years or so.
This is something I hope to correct. It is his style, which is very different to what many players have grown up with.
How eager are you to go through the grind, win the Candidates and take on Carlsen again in the World Championship in November?
I am looking to do well in Khanty right now. If that leads to a match in November I would definitely try and do things differently.
Despite having nothing left to prove do you still have the hunger to be the world champion?
I would say I have hunger to play good chess.
What motivates you now to give your best? Is it pride, reputation or just simple love for the game?
I would just say that I love the game. If something gives you a lot of pain, it also gives you a lot of enjoyment. That is why you love it and are passionate about excelling in it.
Does the attitude (running down Anand) of some former Russian greats like Garry Kasparov motivate you to prove them wrong?
I don’t waste my time on petty chess politics. Chess was clearly Kasparov’s strongest point.
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