Fifth World title toughest in terms of intensity: Anand
Of all the five World titles he has won so far, Indian chess wizard Viswanathan Anand rates the latest one as the toughest in terms of intensity.
The undisputed World champion since 2007 is back in the country after defending his fifth World title, against challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel.
"When you finish an event progressive, it is the toughest ever. It was certainly the longest World Championship as such. If you see earlier matches, I finished in Game 11 and Game 12, but this one went to the tie-breaker. I think, in terms of intensity, this was the toughest," he said.
Anand said he is aware of the legacy that the fifth World title has created in Indian chess but he just wants to focus on his own game right now.
"At the moment I am aware that it [the legacy] exists, but beyond that I do not think about it. When I was in Moscow defending this title I could not care less whether it was the fifth or the first.
"I simply wanted to defend it. At that point you don't have luxury to think of what it means. I took it in the perspective and simply wanted to get it over."
'I think Kasparov has some regret that he retired'
Talking about Gelfand, Anand said the Israeli was a tough nut to crack and had loads of experience to counter whatever he threw at him.
"Boris (Gelfand) is very experienced. He has played in many top events and against top players. He has very close and deep relationships with top players. I did not expect him to lack experience, but he might have lacked the actual experience of playing in a World Championship," he said.
His game was criticised by Russian legend Garry Kasparov while the championship was on, but Anand brushed it aside as nothing more than comments from someone who regrets leaving chess for politics.
"I think he has some regret that he retired. This is about being at the centre of attraction of chess tournaments again. I think he is someone who gives an impression that he wants to play chess again. That is my take on it," he said.
'The intensity was too high'
Recalling his preparations for the big event, Anand said it was an exhausting build-up.
"My training camp was more than three months. For the actual event, I was in Moscow for just under a month. I think while the event was happening it was funny. I was feeling that I was in Moscow for two months because the intensity was too high. Though the event finished on Wednesday, it feels weeks back," Anand said.
"So the funny thing is when you are there, time seems to go slow. It is just the perspective of having the match over and suddenly the time recedes very fast and when you are going through it, it is very slow," he added.
'Game seven was a disaster; I did not sleep'
Anand said losing Game seven came as a real shock to him during the match and it ultimately proved to be the turning point.
"Game seven was a disaster. I cannot remember such a bad show by me in my time. I did not sleep and finally I gave up and went to sleep around 5.30 in the morning. That was worst simply due to the tension and disappointment.
"The next day I could catch up with good sleep after winning the eighth game and equalise the scores. I felt a lot of tension," he said.
'I am not terribly keen on seeing my successor yet'
Anand said his continuing success is also an indicator of Russia's loosening grip over international chess.
"The Russians presence in chess is not what the Soviet Union used to boast of. That is clear... you have to keep in mind that kind of domination they enjoyed in 50's and 60's is very hard to create now.
"Now the world has definitely become more diverse as so many countries play chess and so many Russians have migrated to all these countries. In effect, I would say that still they are a leading nation in world chess," he said.
On the future of Indian chess, Anand said, "The levels of participation have been going up. Lot of initiatives are coming together and the NIIT Mind Champion Academy has put the top out there. Chess has educational benefits. This idea is going forward and now we have a couple of initiatives complementing that.
"India has lot of talent. Certainly it could be nice though I am not terribly keen on seeing my successor yet," he quipped.