World champion Viswanathan Anand is confident of retaining his world title and is preparing with earnest with his seconds at an undisclosed location.
Anand says he is not bothered by the media hype over Magnus Carlsen’s visit to Chennai as he does not follow ‘chess news’ while preparing for major events.
Excerpts from an e-mail interview:
How are your preparations going on?
It’s difficult to assess, until you actually start playing the match. So now we are just trying to cover as much ground as we can.
Having won five World Championship titles, do you think you enjoy an edge over Carlsen?
Surely, the matches have taught me something. But each match for me is a new challenge. I close the chapter on the previous match and approach this as a new challenge.
How motivated are you to win this one as it is being played at your home venue?
I think I would be motivated to win if the match was played on the moon. Being in Chennai, your heart and head keep telling you to win.
How do you fancy your chances to win as pressure and expectations would be sky high?
This is not the first time that I am playing a big event in India. Dreev, New Delhi and then World Cup were all big events that went well for me. I understand the pressure. In the end, only good moves will win the match so that’s the only thing I would want to think about since that’s what I can control.
Does it worry you that in recent tournaments you have not been up to your best?
Surely it does. But I have had worse results before previous matches. I would say except for Tal, I actually did play reasonably well. But now it’s only the 12 games and Magnus that matters.
Will the fact that Carsen beat you at Tal Memorial have a bearing on the World Championship?
I have been there before ... in Chennai the score starts at 0-0.
Your views on Carlsen as a player?
He is tenacious. Lots of talent and extremely ambitious.
Carlsen will be playing next month at St Louis and you will not play in any tournament. Is it a conscious effort to get enough time to prepare for the premier event?
I just planned it that way.
Carlsen at Chennai did not rule out Kasparov helping him. Your comments...
How confident are you about your seconds putting through the paces in order for you to retain the title?
As always, my team is made up of excellent people and I hope I can justify their faith and hard work they put in me.
Manuel Aaron and others players have said that you have the ability to lift the quality of your game for the big match. What is the secret behind the big match ability?
I would say I try to just look at the game in hand. I don’t want to start analysing that now. At present, I am only thinking of Chennai 2013 and that’s what matters.
Which of the five titles that you have won was tough?
Every title comes after hard work, there is no easy title.
Do you find similarities between the current and previous ones?
Like I said, I treat each challenge as a new one. You take lessons and experiences but that’s only part of the walk. You have to walk the whole length to win. This will be a tough match no doubt. Before each match, I try to draw up a strategy that will work and try to work through it thoroughly.
Do you think age is an important factor in chess? Do you think Carlsen being younger has an edge?
I don’t know.
Did you get distracted by Carlsen’s Chennai visit as there was a lot of hype, as he even brought his own chef?
I am not aware of the details of his visit. I don’t follow chess news when I train. He has been at our home in Spain a few times and always enjoyed the food it seemed.
Do you think apart from the game, adapting to various conditions and environment, is a hallmark of a chess player or any sportsman?
As a sportsperson you have to put your sport first. I don’t really think about the venue, food or air. Give me a board and I will play. For a match you look for a degree of comfort but I can tell you during a match only the opponent is in your thoughts. Where you sleep, what you eat fade out after a day.
Your view on the illness clause...
The contracts have been signed, I don’t want to dwell on it. I don’t doubt Carlsen’s integrity as a sportsperson and I am sure neither party will misuse it.
Did you see the venue of the match?
I know the hotel quite well. The management are good friends of ours.
You will be preparing for three months. Do you miss your family and your son?
Sure I do. He (Akhil) is at an interesting stage and each day he does so many new things. Aruna sends me a picture and video each day and I wake up each morning to my Akhil of the day. We do Skype a lot too. His latest is to make music with vessels, so I miss the Philharmonic Orchestra.