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Anand Interview in Mexico

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I almost gave in to my sensationalist side and went with the headline pull quote used by most of the Spanish-language papers. To a one they go with some variation of "Anand rates Kasparov ahead of Fischer." Fair enough, but the Anand's EFE interview is more interesting than that. He just arrived in Mexico for the Morelia-Linares supertournament, which he won last year. Round one is on Friday the 15th. Here's my translation of the interview. Feel free to poach it but I'd appreciate a link for the effort.

Q: On February 14th you begin the defense of your Linares-Morelia title. Who is the favorite for you?

A: There are eight players of the highest level but if I have to pick someone I'd say Levon Aronian, who just won in Wijk aan Zee. I prefer to take it round by round. There's no dominant player, like when (Garry) Kasparov was around. Now you have to fight tournament by tournament.

Q: But the Elo list marks you as the favorite.

A: When you sit down to play the differences between one player and another don't appear on the Elo list. Just look at Aronian and Carlsen, who aren't in the top eight on the rating list but nevertheless just won Wijk aan Zee.

Q: What do you think of the youngster Carlsen? At 17 does he already have the qualities to be world champion?

A: Magnus has developed very quickly. He will be a great champion, without a doubt. He plays with great maturity, not like a lad of 17. He has a huge talent, but I'd still say Aronian is the favorite, although just by a bit.

Q: It seems like Mexico gives you good vibes.

A: Yes indeed. I've won all three tournaments I've played in this country and I feel very comfortable here. I like everything: the people, the climate, the food, and, above all, the chess fans, who treat me very well.

Q: How do you prepare for tournaments?

A: Along with theoretical study, which I usually do in the afternoons, I spend two hours in the gym in the morning. One day I do resistance exercises and the next day strength exercises. Sometimes I ride a bicycle. As a fan I like soccer -- I'm a Real Madrid supporter -- car racing, and tennis.

Q: Do you consider yourself a "child" of the historic Fischer-Spassky encounter in Reykjavik in 1972?

A: I was three years old then and I wasn't precocious enough to follow it, but later, once my mother (Susila Viswanathan) taught me to play when I was six, I studied those games and Fischer the man as well. I consider him a genius who confronted a gigantic country like the Soviet Union on his own.

Q: Do you consider him the greatest ever?

A: He was a genius, and his game, along with having great beauty, was very simple to understand; he did everything easily. He and Kasparov were the greatest in history, but I judge Kasparov as a little ahead. Fischer was a phenomenon from 1970 to 1972 while Kasparov was on top for many years.

Q: You became famous for the speed of your play. Have you lost speed over the years?

A: I'm still winning rapid tournaments and I have better results than Kasparov himself in rapid games. I think I've kept my speed. Even when I spend more time thinking I don't find better moves.

Q: In October you'll have to defend the world championship crown against Kramnik in Bonn, in twelve games. Kramnik gives the impression that he's not at his best these days. [?! -Mig]

A: But in October he'll be a powerful rival because he's very strong in matches. He knows how to prepare very well to come up with ideas at home. I'll also be studying in order to surprise him with a few novelties.

Q: Is it necessary to be a little crazy to become a great chess champion?

A: No. That's a myth. What happens is that the media focuses a lot on the exceptions, but the great majority of players are normal people.

Q: Fischer, Korchnoi, and others used to always bring up scandals about trifles like the chair, the lights, and the nearness of the audience. Do you have any such manias when you sit down at the board?

A: I don't think so. If anything, I might use the same pen that I used when I won a great victory, or wear a special shirt that Aruna puts out for me, but I couldn't care less about the chairs, the table, the board, and the pieces. I have a great ability to concentrate and nothing disturbs me.

Good stuff from the Vish, as usual. But I still think he's the favorite.


Anand's last comment reminds me of something Smyslov was reported to have said (forgive, please, I do not recall the source): "Like this, or like that...it does not really matter."


he seems almost balanced, and fair, statesman-like. and seems to be at peace with kasparov's dominance, and his own status in the chess hierarchy... maybe that is his problem, this lack of an irrational unwillingness to cede ground, or give in, or lose...

Ah the Vish. So calming. What's not to like? I wish him great success.

Anand is a Real Madrid fan? My respect for him has dropped a few notches...

Hi Mig,
Any chances to have Kamsky-Topalov in USA or, at least not in Bulgaria? Obviously I have seen the news today...well is it realistic to hope of American sponsors? Is US Chess Federation getting involved? If no, why not?
Thank you,

This who is the greatest question is always a bit pointless which is why I asked people's favourite player was in my poll running up to 2000. Kasparov's results probably make him the greatest and I think the closest is probably Lasker in that regard (different sort of career in a completely different era but he was World Champion for 27 years).

Another question is who is your favourite Kasparov?

The young Kasparov that played all out aggression a period ended somewhere during the first dozen games of his first match against Karpov.

The early dominant Kasparov who eventually saw off Karpov in 1990, won the World Cup series etc.

The computer prepared Kasparov who was ahead of everyone in that regard for much of the 1990s (especially from the Anand match through to his loss against Kramnik). My feeling from his comments is that Kasparov likes his play best in this period because he thinks it contained less errors.

Or the post-World Champion period with great tournament results against more opponents who were probably closer to him in standard then earlier on where he only had a very small number of players close to him in standard. Then his play clearly started to drop (just couldn't really win with the kind of regularity he had done) before his final two events where he played with more abandon than he had done in years.

I personally liked his 1980s play, especially with 1.d4 with I think some of the richest and most rewarding games he ever played, even if they had more errors in them.

As to the Anand interview, its very like the kind of interviews Tiger Woods gives, media savvy and really not saying a huge amount at all.

"This who is the greatest question is always a bit pointless.. " Yes, everybody knows its Tal. :-)

@mark crowther

i thought the answers were pretty decent, normally when asked about likely winners most players would give the usual "it is difficult to say, everybody is strong, etc". Anand came out with a specific (slightly surprising) choice and stuck to it.
Its really up to the interviewer, Anand's replies were to the point.

The USCF isn't even officially supporting Kamsky in his training or travel, let alone trying to get sponsors for a tournament. They (the people running the USCF, not the members) have no money...no vision...no plans to change (at least none that I can see).

Asking if the USCF is going to help put on a big match like that is like asking if North Korea is going to host the Republican Convention this summer - ain't gonna happen.


Kamsky is gonna be all right in Bulgaria. He has been there before. Have you?

The USCF sucks. It has always sucked and will continue to suck......better off with out it.....

If I understand Vishy correctly, he is saying that Magnus will definitely be world champion some day?

"This who is the greatest question is always a bit pointless.. "


Vishy probably thinks he can beat Aronian, but doesn't want to seem arrogant or create expectations. He seems to have problems winning White games a lot lately; he picks up victories in ugly Blacks. I think he's becoming a more dangerous match player over the last several years at the cost of more "consistent" tournament results.

We may have to start calling him "Mr. +2", like Kramnik, although I find his games more interesting than Kramnik's.

It's results that matter, right? "You are not your potentialities but your life" and all that. Fischer and Tal were sickly types kept out of chess for long periods and cannot be seriously considered the best ever. Moreover Fischer dominated two generations but wasn't around to take on the next legion of chess elite, whereas Kasparov stuck around to face the next generation and crushed them as well. A case could even be made that if IBM hadn't tricked him and broken his spirit, no one would have had a chance. Kramnik would never have dethroned him and he'd retire a still-dominant champion.

I think M Crowther's right about GK's final tournament run, where he revisited his Guinness-eyed dynamic thug persona. And if he'd decided to forego politics and remain in the game, he'd still be #1 and we'd be spared the merciless espresso-guzzling vampire ghostdog Raffael and his author-ego Kasparmig. Not a bad one-two punch actually, but nothing (and nobody) beats Kasparov at the board.

"Kramnik gives the impression that he's not at his best these days. [?! -Mig]"

Why the ?! He scored 50% in Corus with two losses. I think it was a fair comment.

@mark crowther

I don't agree with the remark that Anand said nothing.
To state that Aronian is the favorite is not nothing, nor that he puts Kasparov ahead of Fischer.
Evading those questions would have been easy...

Nigel Short succinctly assesses the Kasparov vs. Fischer thing in Paul Hoffman's recent book: "[Kasparov] was one of the greats if not the greatest of all time," he said. "Lasker may have been world champion for twenty-seven years. Fischer's hottest streak may have been a couple of degrees warmer than Kasparov's--he once won nineteen games in a row. But in terms of sheer consistency and number of tournaments, Kasparov can't be matched."

I put Kasparov ahead of others. He is closely followed by Fischer, Capablanca and Paul Morphy.

Clubfoot, how was it that IBM tricked Kasparov?

@ Mark Crowther:
I think Anand's responses were good. I wonder what responses you were expecting from him. I think it is case not having any 'controversial' character at the top these days. Kasparov's dominance was amazing and who else to certify that other than Anand himself. I think you need to start getting the bigger picture of things.

have to agree with uzzaman, but include Alekine and put Morphy first, he was an incredible chess genius.

Hey Clubfoot, good one after a long time! Your writing style occasionally reminds me of Kinky Friedman. (Occasionally, and on your VERY good days..)

Cynical Gripe: Clubfoot, how was it that IBM tricked Kasparov?

How exactly? I'd say brilliantly and brazenly, in a flourish just short of buggery.

Vishy always gives that sort of light interviews, that's normal and it's OK I think. That's Vishy, that's part of his personality. On the other side the interviewer questions were also very general. Wouldn't be interesting to have him interviewed by someone like Dick Cavett? To show us the real man behind the smiles ;)

It's hard to imagine a happier life as a chess-player than Anand's. Successful, happily married, fit, well-adjusted, self-loving and self-accepting.

Where's our made man Ovidiu?
I miss his eloquence.

Dick Cavett's New York Times piece on Fischer is wonderful. Usually I hate reading chess journalism by non-chessplayers, but Cavett's column is terrific: personal, insightful, touching.

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"I would like to make it clear that the Bulgarian Chess Federation has morally, and probably legally, the right to organise the match" [Topalov v Kamsky] This is Georgios Makropoulos FIDE Deputy President and Chairman of the World Championship Committee (!!) writing to Kamsky Jan 16 this year. What a plonker this guy is. Check out the links in chessbase article. Its not inconceivable that Kamsky would not accept to play the match in Bulgaria in the face of this FIDE intimidation and rigging and I wouldnt blame him. Topalov would then win by forfeit .... hmmm I really could not see Anand or Kramnik accepting to play a match against Toppy under these circumstances .. Oh but then FIDE could always ask the loser against Kamsky to step in to play Toppy instead ...

Guest, Kramnik has all those qualities also. Plus he doesn't have to live in Spain, which must be nice.

More seriously though he has the satisfaction of knowing that when his supreme moment came he was up to the task. Anand doesn't - he couldn't beat Kasparov and he must know he never could've done. If I was him that'd gnaw away at me.

Now of course we'll see if he can beat Kramnik, assuming FIDE actually manages to get it on.

Do we know why Kramnik is not playing Linares, by the way? Preparing already?

Wow, check out the free ebooks the guys at chesszone.org have. Thanks guys, good job!

Luckily Kamsky is a lawyer. I doubt he'll be phased by that sort of bluster.

Look at the commentary of this story http://gambit.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/24/second-computer-expert-offers-opinion-on-report-at-base-of-uscf-lawsuit . You will recognize a famous Blog personaility fighting for the cause of Truong/Polgar.

Anand divides his time between Spain and Chennai, he has indicated that he plans to move back India in the near future.

"More seriously though he has the satisfaction of knowing that when his supreme moment came he was up to the task. Anand doesn't - he couldn't beat Kasparov and he must know he never could've done. If I was him that'd gnaw away at me."

Hah! Perhaps Anand expended some energy in earning the right to play Kasparov; I guess its easier if you are handpicked, have been privy to the Kasparov camp techniques as a one-time second, and come up against a man woefully underprepared and out of form. I like to think though, if Anand had triumphed, he wouldnt have suffered jaundice and turned yellow.. At any rate, I don't think he's the "By Golly, it fell into my lap, and its mine now" type. I guess all those traits make it very easy to sleep at night, and the only gnawing that takes place is at meal & snack times.

rdh u r the bomb....exactely. Anand would never NEV ER have beaten Kasparov.

Folks who think that anything will be "gnawing" at Vishy obviously don't know him very well. He is a sattvic by nature.

A what??

I didn't actually say it gnawed at him, I said it would do at me. I agree he's not someone who gets gnawed at by nature, but I think he minds a little bit. He sounded quite tetchy when someone asked him before Mexico how he felt about never having been world champion and he came out with this stuff about how he had been 'cos he'd won a FIDE Mickey Mouser or two.

Curious notion of d_tal's that beating Kasparov fell into Kramnik's lap.

I think the question was about his match with Kramnik that got him (mildly) irritated - he was like let me enjoy this triumph before worrying about that.

from Wikipedia: (note that I'm not saying that Anand IS a sattvik, his personality approaches that)

A sāttvika individual always works for the welfare of the world. He is always hardworking, alert and lives life moderately. He leads a chaste life. He eats moderately. He speaks the truth and is bold. He never uses vulgar or insulting language. He does not feel jealous nor is he affected by greed and selfishness. He does not cheat or mislead anyone. He does not even allow any evil tendencies to enter his mind. He has good memory and concentration. He also has keen interest in improving his spiritual knowledge, and spends time worshiping god or meditating. In the extreme state he may even perform penance or uninterrupted meditation. A satvic individual can be recognized if his mind, speech and actions synchronize. Manasa, vacha, karmana are the three Sanskrit words used to describe such a state.

If one wishes to stretch the point, then Kasparov would be a rajasic

again, from Wiki (I'd like to add that though this write-up presents rajasic qualities in a somewhat negative light, it is considered that humanity progresses through the actions of such people and such a quality is vital to uphold the world. Great art for example is unlikely to flow from calm, sattvic persons.)

In Samkhya philosophy, one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy, rajas (Sanskrit rajas, or rajoguna) is the quality (guna) of activity. If a person or thing tends to be extremely active, excitable, or passionate, that person or thing is said to have a preponderance of rajas. It is contrasted with the quality of tamas, which is the quality of inactivity, darkness, and laziness, and with sattva, which is the quality of purity, clarity, and healthy calmness.

Rajas is a force which promotes one or more of the following: (1) action; (2) change, mutation; (3) passion, excitement; (4) birth, creation, generation. Note that passion is a feeling (often) associated with the act of generating something new.
Rajas is viewed as being more positive than tamas, and less positive than sattva; except, perhaps, for one who has "transcended the gunas". The (eventual) fruit of rajas is pain, even though the immediate effect of rajas is pursuit of pleasure.

lucky strike was one of these commentators Mig? I did not recognise him which one? In any case the rubbish talked about breach of an NDA being more serious than the wrong disclosed is so ignorant and stupid I cannot believe it is associated with Mig. The guys who wrote that sound like they are full time employees of the tobacco industry - as if breach of an NDA is a criminal offence! Non disclosure in itself can be unethical and sleazy like for example Polgar forgetting to mention that the guy she was praising and supporting for election was her husband Truong. On the other hand impersonating someone and making multiple false postings in other peoples name MAY be a criminal offence.

@ Andy

As I've stated elsewhere, I have sympathy for Mr. Mottershead's position & for whistleblowers in general. To object to the breach of the NDA--I've read the copy leaked to me by a whistleblower :-) , which had rather specific terms--is not to equate said breach with the wrong disclosed.

But it's disingenuous to pretend that the breach is a sacrament.

Well based on that definitions jaideepblue, Kramnik would be a tamas I think, very passive and boring :)

Kramnik very passive and boring? Makes you wonder just how little one has to understand chess to claim something like that.

jaideepblue, why r we discussing philosophy here, lol. I thought this was a chess site.


Repeat after me:

1. Kasparov acted properly by hand-picking Kramnik for the 2000 match; Kramnik was a dirty dog for accepting.

2. Kasparov acted properly in inviting Kramnik to second him for the Anand match; Kramnik acted unsportingly in accepting the invitation.

3. Kasparov's superior preparation in the Karpov matches was laudable. Kramnik's superior preparation in the Kasparov match was shameful.

4. It would have been just, fair, and proper for the highest-rated available player (Kasparov) to be handpicked for a WCC shot in 2002. It was unjust, unfair, and improper that the highest-rated available player (Kramnik) was handpicked for a WCC shot in 2000.

Got that? No?

Actually, I had no problems with any of Koster's statements... that is, I don't think that any of the activities he described were improper. Kramnik really was the best challenger in 2000 (after Anand refused for FIDE contractual reasons). Kasparov probably should have been given a match in 2002, and probably would have if Ponomariov could have rubbed a couple of nickels together.

Kasparov's and Kramnik's superior preparation is always laudable.

All three of these champions are absolutely class acts (with apologies to Kasparov's stereotypically Russian bluster on occasion (Linares 2004 anyone?)).

ubid, looks like nobody cares what you think, lol.

Kramnik's play is absolutely not passive. Whether it is boring or not is up to the individual viewer, but he puts great pressure on his opponents in every single game with white.

And ubid... Part of being a real chess player, imho, is not going through life with blinders on, opening yourself up to new experiences, and especially trying to understand the game better, and that includes the philosophical heritage of the world champion and one of the best players to ever play the game- imho...

" It would have been just, fair, and proper for the highest-rated available player (Kasparov) to be handpicked for a WCC shot in 2002. It was unjust, unfair, and improper that the highest-rated available player (Kramnik) was handpicked for a WCC shot in 2000. "

Whether it would have been just, fair and proper for the highest available player (Kasparov) to be handpicked for a WCC shot in 2002 is a moot point. Matter of fact is Kasparov was not handpicked, Kramnik was.

Well philosophy may not be your can of soup but I was afraid of another of those interminable Susan Polgar-Truong threads complete with impostors.

g koster....what in the f are u always talking about? You write of bunch of crap that is nonsensical..spare us from your pathetic opinions please. Got that???? NO????????????

J. Patzers -Your are not to clever, are You.

@greg koster AND @rdh: Thank you for your postings. Always a pure pleasure to read. Keep them comming.

I thought we were discussing Anand here. The interview shows what a great personality he has. A very important quality for a world champ - people can actually like him.


Enough with the sarcasm already.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 12, 2008 6:42 PM.

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