December 29, 2000

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This is the real World title: Anand

Onkar Singh

Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand on Friday said he would very much like to visit places all over India and personally guide chess players, but does not have that kind of time to do so.

The newly-crowned World champion was answering a question from a Jammu-based chess player, who wanted him to do something for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, where, he said, there are no facilities to play chess.

"I cannot coach young boys and girls personally because of paucity of time. But this is something I would love to do," Anand said.

More than 200 chess players from all over the country took a break from the ongoing junior chess tournament in Gaziabad to be with the World champion and ask him questions relating to chess.

Replying to another question, on what should be done to become a world champion, Anand said young and budding chess players should first concentrate on their studies and also play the game of chess with full concentration.

"There is no short cut to success," he added.

The Madras-born champion admitted that he had more anxious moments in his match with Alexander Khalifman that against Alexei Shirov, who he beat in the final.

"The tie-breaker against Khalifman was more thrilling, because this was in the knock-out stage. There was a stage when I felt that I was on the verge of being eliminated. We played a series of games one after another. It was touch and go. I could not prepare myself before every game in Delhi because I did not know who was going to be my opponent the next day. So I would prepare for a general game.

"But I knew that in the final I was playing against Shirov. I knew that he had not been playing well. If he had won six games, he had lost eight. So I knew if I could put him under pressure he would make mistakes. And that is what I did," he told a captive audience at a felicitation function organized by NIIT, his sponsors.

Asked if he would play Kasparov next to prove he is the real World champion, Anand said: "As far as I am concerned this is the real world title. If Kasparov does not come to play against me then it is his problem, not mine."

He thanked his wife Aruna and his parents for giving him support.

"When I won the world title and called my mother, she asked me why I did not take the queen with a particular piece. She is the one who taught me chess, and till today she keeps asking me questions like the days she used to ask when I was learning from her," he confessed.

But it was Information and Technology minister Pramod Mahajan who stole the limelight from the World champion as he took a dig at politicians and cricket.

"While Anand plays chess only in a tournament politicians play chess games all the time. We are 24 hours scheming how to beat our opponents and counter their moves. It is a different matter that we have no chess board to make our moves," he said amidst laughter.

Saying India's triumph in the 1983 cricket World Cup was nothing compared to what Anand achieved by winning the chess World championship, Mahajan said: "Anand won the world title in a game that is played in over 150 countries while cricket is just a Commonwealth game.

"Anand has defeated the best in the world, while in cricket we came best among the nine nations who play cricket."

He said Anand's feat is noteworthy because the game of chess originated in India and spread across the world while cricket is played in only those countries where the Britishers ruled.

"Anand took only 13 years to become a world champion but we had to wait for 14 centuries. The game of chess, I am told, was invented in India in the sixth century. Now I hope the game would arouse more interest amongst young chess players and inspire them to follow the footsteps of the world champion," he said.

Related features:
Vishwanathan Anand - The complete series

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