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Master of the moves

Viswanathan Anand tells HT that he beat Kramnik on the board and thats what counts.

other Updated: Oct 30, 2008 22:17 IST
Hindustan Times

Chess players usually remember dates of their important victories. But for Viswanathan Anand, who has one a few score titles and wards, keeping track of dates and victories should not be such an easy ask.

But then, perhaps world mind game champs are shaped in an ethereal mould.

A day after the most important victory of his life – one that crowned him undisputed world champion and silenced a big group of skeptics in chess circle who would not acknowledge his earlier title in Mexico as it has not come in a one-on-one match -- the first thing Anand told this correspondent was that the victory in Bonn came exactly 13 months after his triumph in Mexico. "I won Mexico on September 29 and Bonn came on October 29, exactly 13 months," the 28-year-old Champion said with a smile. Perhaps for this most modest of men, the barbs hurt more than he ever voiced. Finally, there can be no misgivings. Anand is king of the world.

Excerpts from an interview:

Just before the match, Vladimir Kramnik made some disparaging comments about your Mexico victory. Do you think you have paid him back by winning on the board?

It was all part of the game; possibly he said all that just to taunt me. You normally do such things to build up the pressure before a match and there has to be some rivalry for a match. Then, maybe he had started believing too much in that.

In hindsight, I can now say that I have responded to him on the board because I have won the title. If I had lost, he would have continued to say that 'see match-play is the best and not tournament'.

I managed to win the title and that is all that matters now.

How would you rate this victory vis-a-vis your earlier victories in 2000 (New Delhi/Tehran) and last year in Mexico? Do you consider it sweeter as you have won it in a match?

Not really. I am still proud of my victory in Delhi as it was the first. I consider Mexico and Bonn as the same as both are undisputed titles. When I won in Delhi there was this duality but by the time of Mexico, the reunification had happened and that was a great feeling to win that title.

There has been a debate and lots of people believe that match-play is the best way to determine a world champion. What do you think?

Many times people have raised this issue before of me and I had to determine what their intentions were – whether they were raising the issue in general terms as a discussion or trying to belittle my victory in Mexico. But Mexico included apart from Kramnik players like Peter Leko, (Alexander) Morozevich and Svidler.

I understand that lot of people think that matches are more important but for me one tests you in terms of length and other in the width of your abilities.

In this match, you surprised Kramnik by playing 1.d4 (opening with a pawn in front of queen) whereas you always start with 1.e4 (with the pawn in front of king). If you leave aside hindsight, don't you think you had taken a big risk by opting such a bold step?

It definitely was a risk but from the onset I was sure of what I would play and I was aware of the fact that I would have to live with it my whole life if things went wrong. I agree that it was a big step to leave 1.e4 totally out and play d4 that Kramnik is comfortable with. Coming up with new things in that was very tough and I am happy that my team helped me prepare well.

When did you come up with this strategy to force Kramnik to play according to your preparation? The last match you played against Garry Kasparov in 1995, you lost out in opening preparation. Was it a conscious effort to surprise Kramnik with the opening?

Now that I have won, I can say it was strategy. I decided long back about what I will play, how I will go about it. The preparation started soon after Mexico. Peter (Heine Nielsen) was already there, we had a meeting and discussed who all can be onboard. Then Surya (SS Ganguly) came. I met Radoslav Wojtaszek at the Bundesliga and like his games so I asked him and he said OK immediately. Kasim (Rustamm Kasimdzhanov) was the last to join.

My basic criteria was that I liked their style of play and felt comfortable working with them.

I had a session early this year in India and then we got together for a lengthy session in Spain and things fell into place slowly.

First Published: Oct 30, 2008 21:34 IST