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Humpy our best hope: Anand

Calcutta: Not many were aware of Viswanathan Anand’s visit to the city late on Tuesday evening, his first after being crowned world champion. The occasion was the felicitation of NIIT’s zonal chess champions, DPS Ruby Park.

The lateness of the hour was the cause of a sparse turnout at the function, at which state sports minister Subhas Chakraborty was also present, but Anand had no complaints. He even said he felt proud to be in the “sports city”.

The following are excerpts from his interaction with the media:

On his goals for the New Year

Anything I attain in chess gives me great joy. I will be playing in the Corus event next month. Although I have won the title there five times, I am motivated to do really well this time too. I would also like to defend my world title.

On whether he was satisfied with the reception he received when he got back to India

I must say that I was satisfied with the reception. It was fantastic on my return in New Delhi and Chennai. There are no complaints.

On whether he has plans of settling down in Chennai

I have been operating out of Spain for the past few years… It’s not that I haven’t been in touch with India but the thing is that I spend a lot of time travelling. In October I moved to Chennai and will gradually settle down there. But I will still have to travel a lot to play in different tournaments across the world… A lot of Indian players have emerged strongly in the last few years. I regularly work with Sandipan Chanda, Surya Sekhar Ganguly and others. Lack of practice partners was one of the reasons for my moving out but now things have changed. I can now spend more and more time at home.

On whether he is keen on fighting Garri Kasparov again

If Kasparov changes his mind about his retirement I would welcome that. We can have a great match. We didn’t have an opportunity after 1995 and that’s a pity.

On whether he is feeling the pressure of being world champion

October was pleasant and passed off in a haze… The feeling was funny. But thereafter, as things settled down, the feeling was no different. I’ve stopped thinking about it. For me things have remained the same. Maybe when you go here and there and people refer to you as the world champion it will hit you. I think I have enough experience to cope with the pressures involved. Maybe I will have a new feeling when I go to Linares the next time.

On how he looks at the new crop of Indian talent

Youngsters have been emerging but the progress has been slow. Sasikiran has made steady progress over the years. The next set of players behind him are also making progress though it has been slower than expected. There are other players coming through. (G.N.) Gopal was impressive in Russia. Koneru (Humpy) has done well too and remains our best hope to become the second world champion.

On the lack of international tournaments in India

I agree there has been lack of showpiece tournaments. We really need to do a bit more here… I hope something is done.

On the lack of infrastructure in the game

We need to develop more sponsorship for the national championships and other showcase events.

On Sourav Ganguly’s ensuing 100th Test in Melbourne

All the best Sourav… We are waiting… Just go for it.

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