Chennai: Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand states he is still learning and working on certain areas, in particular the endgame, to polish his overall style of play. Just back from London, Anand says he was pained to see Chennai under water. He praised wife Aruna’s thoughtfulness in providing shelter for some children in his house.
In an exclusive chat with Express, the 46-year-old talks about future tournaments and way of reaching out to those affected by floods. Excerpts…
The first half of 2015 went off well (Zurich, Shamkir and Stavanger). What went wrong in St Louis & London?
I was getting more surprises in the earlier tournaments, whereas in later ones people kept catching me off-guard.
Has the gap closed on Magnus Carlsen, as results show, in 2015?
Not really. Carlsen doesn’t win everything, but he still wins a lot. No one else has been able to demonstrate such consistency either.
What is your take on Anish Giri’s progress?
He is the closest to matching Carlsen’s performance in the second half of the year.
How excited are you ahead of the Gibraltar Masters? When was the last time you played in an open tournament?
I am looking forward to it. My last open tournament in classical format was 1993.
Can P Harikrishna get into the 2800-club?
He will, if he can raise his game a little bit. He is able to keep a 2750 performance fairly consistently, so he will have to choose consolidating or pushing a bit more.
Which part of your game needs tweaking to bounce back?
I have been working on different aspect. I don’t think it is one factor. You have to keep doing what you do, but each time more efficiently. Endgames might be an area I work on more these days.
Karthikeyan Murali won the national title at 16. Any thoughts?
He is one of our brightest and I hope this national title gives him the confidence to aim higher. I remember my first national title having the same effect on me.
RB Ramesh’s academy produced all the champions in the recent world meets. Your take?
He has been able to consistently produce age-category champions. It is also commendable that some of these children do not have the financial backing, but Ramesh has been a coach as well as a family member to all these children.
What was the idea behind letting children stay in your place?
I didn’t know about it till someone messaged me. I am proud that Aruna did it. The depth of the suffering is hard to understand but the fear that you can be washed away is difficult to push away.
A chat with many winners revealed that most of them have problems with funding to travel and train. Do you have any suggestion?
Corporate sponsorship would be key. The federation should start promoting talent actively and with accountability. When a child shows talent, it is a window of two years before the talent can make or break. So it is key that you spot, train and give exposure properly.
Do you find time to teach your son, Akhil, and which is your favourite subject?
He generally teaches me. I’m yet to master names of all Thomas the Tank Engine characters.