World Chess Title Defense Against Carlsen, Aronian Sounds Exciting: Anand
You were crowned world champion (for the fifth time) on May 30. How have the past 50-odd days been?Actually, I have been very busy. There was a ceremony for my son. And we have been travelling a lot. Also, the chess work keeps piling up. Dortmund (Sparkassen Chess Meeting) is going on now, a few other tournaments will follow. So there are new games to be played. There is no time, really, to reflect on my victory. At some point, when I get a few days off, I will catch up on it. But right now, I haven’t been thinking about it much.
You obviously spend a year or so preparing for a world championship. How did you cope up with the challenges that come with fatherhood?It’s an amazing feeling to watch your son grow up so fast. He is a year and a half now. When I was training, Akhil started to walk. I have caught quite a few moments and enjoyed every bit of it. Aruna and I try to spend as much time as possible with him. We also take him on some of our trips. But taking him to Moscow for the world championships wasn’t practical. So he stayed back in Chennai. But yes, I am enjoying fatherhood.
How do you handle criticism? Most experts expected you to trample Boris Gelfand…I think their judgment was mistaken. They simply underestimated how difficult Boris would be. For me, it wasn’t surprising. Instead of admitting that their judgment was an error, they started inventing stories how the match was not interesting and all that.
What’s lined up for you?I will play a few tournaments. There’s Bilbao in September; the Barcelona got postponed. Then I’ll be going to Brazil and Spain in September, followed by London in December.
You may have to defend your world title against Levon Aronian or Magnus Carlsen. Are you looking forward to it?
That, to me, is a very exciting prospect. To play these amazingly talented players would be a huge challenge for me. It would help me learn a lot about chess. The odds are very high that one of them will (earn the right to challenge me), but there are some other players too. In fact, most people would consider them the favourites.
You’ve beaten them both and lost too. But it’s believed that Anand holds the edge, especially in match play.
I hold the edge in match play, but I have also shown a lot of my cards. Everyone knows the kind of matches I play and the strategies I apply. So you are exposed as well.
Do you think the game is better received than it was, say, 15-20 years ago?People are appreciating the game more now. The kids I just met in school were asking me chess questions. Those were not the kind of questions people used to ask me earlier. Also, the media coverage is much better these days. I am told that the tie-break games were watched by a lot of people. Some of them told me they saw me biting my nails!
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