Calcutta: It was a red-letter day for Indian sports when Viswanathan Anand won the world title in Mexico City, drawing his 14th and final round game against Peter Leko on Saturday. The 37-year-old was clearly the favourite when the meet began, but no one expected Anand to win so easily. He secured nine points and remained unbeaten in the tournament.
Anand had won the title in Tehran in 2000, but then the top two in the world, Garri Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik, had given the championship a miss. In Mexico City, Anand’s dominance was total.
On a day when he was besieged by calls from all over the world, Anand spoke to The Telegraph for nearly 30 minutes from his hotel early in the morning.
The following are excerpts:
Q: Congratulations! How does it feel to be the world champion once again'
A: It feels great to win it again.
Playing for the world title surely put you under a lot of pressure. Has the pressure lifted now that the title is in your bag'
Oh yes! Yesterday, after drawing with Leko, I was very relieved. When you have a 1.5 point lead in the tournament, the fear remains that you may become complacent.
What has given you greater satisfaction, the title in 2000 or this one in Mexico City'
It’s difficult to choose … but then, unlike in the previous one, all the top players of the world took part here.
Which game would you rate as your best in the meet here'
I had worked hard on the openings and that paid rich dividends. My best game was against Grischuk in the earlier round. Strangely, though, in Round 13 he nearly beat me and I was lucky to escape with a draw from an inferior position.
Were any Indians involved with your preparation for this meet'
I had worked with GM Sandipan Chanda for a week when he was here. In Chennai, I worked with Konguvel and Saravanan.
If you were to analyse the championship, what was the crucial moment in the whole tournament'
There were a number of crucial moments —when I beat Grischuk, when Gelfand beat Aronian, when Grischuk beat Gelfand.
Before the start of the championship, pundits had predicted that it would be a close affair between you and Kramnik. However, Kramnik had seemed a bit subdued and except for his last-round win over Aronian wasn’t very impressive. What are your views'
I think his preparation was good. However, he had a late start and when he got going, the gap was a good two points between us.
You will be crossing the psychological barrier of Elo 2800 for the second time in your career. Though it’s difficult to maintain this Elo, can we expect to see you above this level after this'
I hope so. But an Elo of 2800 also puts you under more pressure. You have to score half a point more in every tournament to stay at that level.
Despite the fact that Fide has been blatantly unfair to you, you have been constantly proving your worth over the chess board. Despite losing here in the round robin, don’t you think it was unfair to give Kramnik a right to a return match'
Well I definitely think so … but I guess Kramnik has the right people to protect his interests.
In your earlier years, it was said that you are too nice a person and that you lack the killer instinct. What have you to say about this'
Earlier, there was a lot of acrimony between the players. But now, at the top level, all the players are quite friendly. The killer instinct only comes into play when we sit down across the board.
Indian sports has never had it so good in the recent past. After our soocer team won the Nehru Cup and the hockey team the Asia Cup, Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co. lifted the World Twenty20. Your comments'
Pankaj Advani as well … I am sure we will do well in the Beijing Olympics too.
Have you seen Chak De! India '
(Laughs) I have received a number of emails asking me about it … No I haven’t seen it as yet … I probably will, in the near future.
Would you consider India a major force in world chess now'
Well, some Indians have qualified for the World Cup and I expect a couple more to qualify.
Which young Indian chess players do you think can make it big on the world stage'
A number of Indians are coming up … Negi is doing well and so is Sethuraman .
Have you spoken to your parents ' I remember in 2000 your mother had even suggested a move after the event.
I have spoken to them but briefly because of the time difference… I will be calling them up again…They were keenly following the games…
What are your future plans ' You will be playing in the World Cup in December, I believe '
I will be coming to India in October and then play the Corus meet in January and Linares in February.
Finally, what advice would you give to budding chess players '
I would just tell them to enjoy the game all the time.