Kasparov's words affected my game in Moscow, says Anand
Mumbai: Terming his fifth world championship title as the most difficult one to achieve, chess wizard Viswanathan Anand today admitted that veteran Russian player Garry Kasparov`s mind games did affect him during his title defence in Moscow in May.
"Normally I try not to read newspapers or websites on chess precisely for this reason. You might be affected by some comment or other. Unfortunately, in press conferences, you are asked pointed questions and then you try to find about things you tried not to read about. Still I think you try not to lose sight," Anand said here.
"It is important to know the main opponent is (Boris) Gelfand and not Kasparov. It is important to focus on the match...But this time it was there in the background and it was impossible to shut it out," said the 42-year-old five-time world champion at a promotional event organised by NIIT.
Former world champion Kasparov controversially remarked during the tournament that Anand should have retired from the game like he himself had done and that the Indian had lost motivation and had slid downhill over the last few years.
After clinching the crown, the Indian ace had retorted that Kasparov was regretting his retirement from the game.
"We were asked about his remarks. He is the man who regrets leaving chess. He misses the attention he got in chess, somehow he wants to be there. May be he should play again," Anand had said on his return home in June.
"The match against (Vladmir) Kramnik finished in 11 games. The match against (Veselin) Topalov finished in 12 games. Against, Gelfand it went past 12 games.
"The intensity was higher, otherwise most matches are similar. I would say this was my most difficult one as it went all the way to the tie breaks," Anand observed.
Anand exuded confidence about the current crop of chess players and said they just need a good break to make their mark.
"We have a lot of good players and it is happy to see that in both men and women. We have excellent juniors, they do well in world championships for their age group. For instance Murali Karthikeyan is a world under-12 champion. I think if you have enough youngsters, eventually the results will follow.
"People like Sasikaran (Krishnan) or P Harikrishna and (Surya Shekhar) Ganguly are working very hard and they are very close. If they get the right break somewhere it could happen. In women, Koneru Humpy has played very well. So we are not very far off," he said.
The veteran, meanwhile, informed that he opted out of the Chess Olympiad in Turkey, scheduled from August 27 to December 10, as he did not enjoy the format.
"I have problems with the format. On top of that, there are quite some unpleasant rules which they have these days. They have zero tolerance rules with terms of timing...The fact that you lose a game if you are one second late.
"These kinds of rules mean many players have to get into the hall an hour in advance. There are many things, which I think are negative...," he said.
On his schedule this year, Anand said he will be playing in Brazil and Bilbao, Spain in September and October, adding that in December he was set to play in London and in January, 2013 he would be competing at the Tata Steel event at Holland.
Anand, who first turned Grandmaster in 1987, said it was good to see many GMs emerging these days.
"The Grandmaster title average age is getting younger and the world record is somewhere at 12 years. I was the youngest Grandmaster, but not the title recipient, at 18 years. Now it has dropped 6 years from that. Definitely the scene is looking good.
"I think the average player today is stronger than the average player 20 years ago. More people are playing and more people have access to more tools. The average depth in chess is higher. More people are getting GM title because the level is increasing. The players are stronger," he said.
He, however, added that he hasn`t faced any hurdles in his distinguished career.
"I wouldn`t say I faced any special road block. From 2001-2005, there were no proper World Championships in which I could play. That in a way was a boon because for a few years I could concentrate on playing tournaments and getting good results.
"And when the World Championships came back, I was hungry again. I wouldn`t say I faced major road blocks," he said.
The chess ace further said that he engages in physical sports after his matches to relax.
"I find that after many matches, it is nice to do something physical just to get rid of the strain. It works in the opposite direction as well. People in contact sports play chess to disconnect themselves. For example, the Klitschko brothers (from Ukraine) play chess after their (boxing) bouts," he pointed out.