“What I think with Vishy (Viswanathan Anand) is that he has lost motivation. I think he's sliding downhill these (last) years. He wants to win, he knows he's a better player, but it's not enough.”
This stinging comment by chess legend and former champion Garry Kasparov at a press conference in Moscow on Friday during the sixth game of the World Chess Championship match between defending champion Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand of Israel would leave the Indian Grandmaster’s fans stunned.
One does not expect such caustic remarks by a former champion while the match is on. But then Kasparov, who famously slammed the door into Anand’s face during their World Championship match in New York in 1995, does not believe in niceties and is known to speak his mind, especially when it comes to Anand.
The Russian has already dismissed the 12-game contest as not the match to decide the best chess player in the world. The match has seen Anand and Gelfand draw all the six games at the midway stage as the two players have adopted safety-first approach and stuck to home preparation till now. There have been a couple of surprise moves – Gelfand’s choice of Grunfeld Defence being one, but there have been few games that have been exciting.
Kasparov said the previous matches played by Anand – his clash with Vladimir Kramnik in Bonn in 2008 and against Veselin Topalov in Sofia two years later — were more intense.
Change in tactics
As they sit down to plan for Sunday's seventh game both Anand and Gelfand, who too did not like Kasparov’s comments about the match, will have to take a re-look at their strategy and answer the Russian legend with an exciting game. The pressure will surely mount on Gelfand as continuing to play safe may take the match into tiebreakers and Anand is one of the best players in shorter games.
With Gelfand playing with white pieces in the seventh game on Sunday, fans would hope that the players will be able to infuse some excitement in the match. Anand held an advantage in the third game (Kasparov felt the Indian had a chance to win) while Gelfand had slight plus position in the sixth.