Chennai : At 42, Viswanathan Anand is the second oldest of the top ten FIDE ranked players in the world, but the reigning world chess champion today ruled out any plans of retiring.
Anand, who won the world championship five times including the latest against Boris Gelfand in Moscow in May this year, says “there is definitely no thought of retirement”.
“In fact, it is quite the opposite”, he told PTI in an interview here, clearly indicating that he intends to defend his title in 2014. Although Anand is the reigning world champion, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, who is half his age at 21, tops the current world ratings given by FIDE, the world chess federation which keeps changing the ratings based on tournament play. Only Ukraine’s Vassily Ivanchuk is a little older than Anand, who is currently ranked ninth in the world. Ruling out retirement, Anand asked “how can I quit”.
In a career spanning over two decades, Anand has squared off and beaten many a tough opponents but the Indian chess legend considers Israeli Boris Gelfand as the toughest of them all for his discipline.
Anand beat Gelfand to clinch his fifth world title earlier this year in a match that went into tie-break after both the players finished 6-6 in the regular games.
“In a way, I consider Boris Gelfand of Israel as a tough rival. He is a very professional and disciplined chess player. In the World Championship, Gelfand deserved the title win as much as I but then this Championship has been my biggest test so far,” Anand said.
Anand turned Grandmaster in 1988 and asked about the secret of his longevity that too at the top, the affable chess wizard said the desire to keep learning keeps him going.
I attend to my fitness. I go the gym every day and try to maintain my physical fitness without that it is tough to take challenges on the chess board. Viswanathan Anand
“First of all if it is a secret, I would simply say that it is keep playing the game of Chess. I keep forcing, I keep learning new things in the game and so far I have been taking challenges as they come,” he said.
On his fitness, Anand said though his eating habits are not too strict, he does make it a point to go to the gym regularly.
“I attend to my fitness. I go the gym every day and try to maintain my physical fitness without that it is tough to take challenges on the chess board. As far as food habits are concerned, I would say that it depends on where you are and you have to eat what is available. So, it is not possible to be very strict. I would not say that I have very special food habits,” he said.
Five world titles and six Chess Oscars under his belt but Anand doesn’t mind the perceived lack of hype around his mammoth achievements.
“I do not think about it at all. My job is to play chess, the game that I love. I achieve what I can in chess. That is what I focus on. Basically, I am always focused on playing the game and this is important to me,” he said. Talking about the Indian chess scenario, Anand said the young crop holds out a lot of promise for the future. “There has been a sea change in chess in India. The growth at all levels, the number of youngsters into the game. I think you cannot even compare the awareness and the interest in chess today to what was 25 years ago,” he said.
“So, I believe that there will be strong chess players from India. We already have several players on the verge of breakthrough. I am sure that sooner or later someone will,” Anand added.
On to his own game, Anand said he would be aiming to improve his ELO ratings which have fallen to 2780, leaving him sixth in the world rankings.
“I had a few misses in the second half of last year. There is where I lost lot of ELO points. Of course, after something like that you want to come back strongly. I do not have specific plans for the ELO as such.”
“You gain ELO points by having the results. So, I think that the key is to have good records again and then ELO rating will take care of itself. I am definitely disappointed by the loss of position on ELO. But, I hope to do better this year. Nothing much you can really do. You just keep working and keep trying. That is what I will do,” he said. After spending a good part of his life in Spain, Anand has shifted back to his home city Chennai and the veteran said he does miss Europe at times.
“Of course, we miss Spain. Spain has been a big part of our life. But, we are also very happy coming back to India and it is nice to be with parents, grandparents and so on. It is not too bad. I get to go to Spain often enough. At least twice a year for tournaments and I still get to keep in touch with a lot,” he said.
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