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Anand wants Chess to be an Olympic sport

December 10, 2009 13:24 IST

On the eve of his 40th birthday, the first chess player to become world champion in all three formats of the game, Indian ace Vishwanathan Anand has just one wish - to see his sport included in the Olympics.

"Obviously that would be for the (World Chess Federation) FIDE and the International Olympic Committee to decide. Personally, it would be nice to have chess in the Olympics," said Anand - a world champion in Knockout, Tournament, and Match formats - told PTI-Bhasha in an interview.

Anand doesn't foresee chess coming anywhere close to cricket in terms of popularity and is happy with whatever attention it gets in a nation obsessed with bat and ball.

V Anand"I can't complain... I am happy with the attention chess gets and the exposure I get," he said.

Asked which Indian sportsperson he admires the most, the bespectacled ace said though he appreciates every athlete who has done the country proud, badminton great Prakash Padukone remains the most inspiring for him.

"As far as other Indian sports stars are concerned, everyone has qualities that make them great. I admire Prakash Padukone a lot," said the first recipient of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the country's highest sporting honour.

Giving an insight into his approach to the game, Anand said his best games are the ones he has played with child-like enthusiasm.

"I think when you start counting all your achievements you will soon not have much more to count. I try to focus on the immediate challenge. In a way I play best when I am like the six-year-old Anand just wanting to beat the opponent," Anand said.

"Having won the World Championships in all formats gives me confidence but somehow you feel as good as your last result. Chess in the last five years has been very competitive. You have to win the game to feel good," said the Chennai-born star.

Happy with the progress made by Indian youngsters in the international circuit, Anand said the new breed of chess players have it in them to become the world's best.

"If you look at the age group categories, India is a contender for most of the top spots. This shows that we are developing as a chess nation and have talent.

"Recently S P Sethuraman did well in the Under-16. Sowmya Swaminathan did extremely well in Argentina. Parimarjan Negi has matured a lot. Every year we have at least two or three names that stand out," he said.

Gearing up for the World Championship match against Veselin Topalov next year, Anand said he expects the April-May match to be tough given Topalov's versatility.

"Clearly my focus is the match next April. I will play at Corus in January but already training for the match is what I have been doing. Topalov is a very versatile and dangerous player.

"He will be very well-prepared and I think for now we are both training for each other," said the Grandmaster.

Having spent almost three decades on the international circuit, Anand does not deny the possibility of cheating in chess but said there is mutual trust among players.

"In chess, the only form of cheating that can unsettle the balance is electronic doping, the use of computers or devices. Already since 2005 most top level events have monitoring devices to prevent the use of cell phones and computers.

"Among the top players there is a code of conduct where you trust that a player will not cheat and will play a honourable game," he said.

Anand, who has moved to Spain with his wife Aruna to keep up with his international commitments, said he likes to be in India at least twice every year.

"I come to India twice or thrice a year. We have a house in Chennai so we tend to spend more time in India every year. Since travel and preparation for chess takes up most part of the year, I love coming to India twice a year to catch up with family and friends," said Anand.

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