Still aiming for chess perfection

Sunday, 26 November 2017 | Akshay Sharma

When he lost the world champion title in 2013 to Magnus Carlsen, many wondered what lies ahead for Viswanathan Anand. But he hasn't shown any inkling to walk away from the game. Akshay Sharma talks to the legendary chess grandmaster about his plans for the future as well as his views on the future of the game in India

In each of your two world title matches against Magnus Carlson, there was one game where you were on your way to winning but then committed a major blunder to lose. Were those two instances mere blips or a sign that you are losing some of your edge as a player?

I think you can always improve yourself and part of trying to be a better player is striving for perfection regardless of whether you get there or not. There is a clear trend with your age that I have been spotting for 21 years, that's not going to go away or change. Having said that, I don't see that as a limiting factor. I think if I can keep improving, I can reduce the number of mistakes in my game.

You have played against greats of the game like Garry Kasparov and others. Where does Magnus Carlson stand among these big names?

He is up there, he is definitely up there. But he still has a long career ahead of him. So, he is in no way finished. I guess, we can answer this question in a few more years.

Are you still as motivated to become the world champion now as you were in the earlier days?

I am as committed to trying to improve and get better as before. And if part of that is winning world championship, then why not. Once you are back in the world championship cycle, automatically you hope to go all the way. Part of the reason we try for perfection is simply because, if nothing else, you might at least get better.

Currently, are you playing chess just to enjoy the game or with the same determination as before?

I don't know the difference. I think, even if you are playing for fun, you want to do a better job. I can't really see the difference in these two adjectives.

After you, who can be the next great chess player from India?

There are a couple of strong players. Right now, Vidit (Santosh Gujrathi) is shining but you also have Adhiban (B), Sethuraman (SP) and quite a lot of strength down the line. Swapnil Dhopade had a great result at the Isle of Man International event. Let's see what happens, it's changing a lot.

But you are confident that India has a good future in chess?

Yes. Very much.