After ruling the chess world for nearly 20 years now, Viswanathan Anand is rightly regarded as one of the greats of the 64-squares game.
In the last few years, he has captured almost every title that came his way. This April he won the coveted Chess Oscar, thus becoming the first non-Russian to win the award for the fourth time, after previous wins in 1997, 1998 and 2003.
In December 2003, the 34-year-old Indian ace, who lives in Spain with wife Aruna, was conferred the Jameo do Oro, Spain's highest civilian award given to a foreigner.
Anand spoke exclusively to rediff.com readers in an online chat on Friday. Check the transcript below:
Viswanathan Anand : Hello everyone. This is Viswanathan Anand here.
Tariq : Hi Anand !! Congrats ...
Viswanathan Anand : Thank you very much Tariq.
ganesh : hi anand how r u all the best to get the top rank in fide which u deserve thoroughly
Viswanathan Anand : Thank you Ganesh. I am concentrating on the world championship, and if I win, that should help me in clinching the highest rating.
Tariq : Do you do some kind of coaching for youngsters in Chess ?
Viswanathan Anand : I am promoting the mind champions academy, which is enabling students all over the country to learn and play chess. I dont do one-on-one coaching, due to the fact that my career doesn't leave me much time for that.
steelydan : Tell me something, when u look ahead, the situations branch out right? How do u prune the branches to think of the most possible future situation of the board...After all its not only u..its a Game, the opponent also is a party
Viswanathan Anand : You try to calculate as best as you can, as far as you can. But then one has to take intutive decisions since not everything can be worked out exhaustively. Of course you have to take into account your opponent as you rightly point out in making a final decision.
Kishore : Hi Anand Congrats. I think we Indians are doing good in Chess now when compared to earlier. What are the steps we need to take, to keep ourselves in Top position.
Viswanathan Anand : I think we need to build on the enthusiasm for chess and the momentum we have in India. Still it will take a while to overhaul Russia or Ukraine, but I think our sixth place in the Olympiad shows our potential.
Bobby : Hi Anand,Why do you prefer staying in Spain. Is it anything to do with the taxes
Viswanathan Anand : From January to June, the chess circuit is at its busiest and as the majority of events happen in Europe its convenient for me to train and live in Spain. However, in the second half of the year, when the calendar is a bit lighter, then I usually come to India for a couple of months.
ragsri : Anand do you think playing too much rapid chess could influence game in Classical time controls. For example I've heard from many that you sometimes you could make stronger moves by taking more time to think
Viswanathan Anand : Definitely playing too much of any one time control reduces your adaptability thats why I have a mix of formats in the events I choose to play every year. I think also that a way of thinking is a fairly personal. I find that many of the best decisions come to me immediately. So try to find your optimum rhythm.
Ram : Hi Anand, Do you think whether chess is getting enough media coverage. Mostly we do not know what happens.
Viswanathan Anand : I think media coverage is quite reasonable in India. However, due to time zones sometimes events are covered a day or two late. Rediff.com typically covers most of my events and most chess events are well covered on the tournament web sites. So just search for recent events.
deepakverma : What is the next championship coming your way. I hope u will win that
Viswanathan Anand : I will play in the Mainz Chess Classic in August where I have a tough eight-game rapid match against Alexander Grischuk. After that my next event will be the World championship in Argentina.
karthik : hi anand, its a nice opportunity to chat with u. first of all, congrats fr all the achievements tht u hav made and the very best for ur future endeavours
Viswanathan Anand : Thank you Karthik.
Bernie : Hi Anand, I am probably the greatest fan of yours. World Championship in Argentina is going to take its toll on you. Right now Topalov seems to be your biggest challenge. What discussable strategies do you (or would you) have to circumvent his challenge?
Viswanathan Anand : Definitely the World Championship will be very difficult. Topalov is in excellent form but both of us need to remember that there are six more dangerous rivals. I think this event will go down to the wire and all I can do is to prepare myself and try to arrive in Argentina ready to fight a long tournament.
Amit dabral : hi Anand, I like to ask u, how will u serve indian Chess player when u are settled abroad
Viswanathan Anand : I would require to travel regardless of where I live. Also, I believe one promotes chess by having good results and I usually come to India every year to promote chess.Also refer my earlier answer.You can check the link below for details on the Mind Champions Academy.
fischerstudent : Aiyya pesungo saare
Viswanathan Anand : Pesikondu irrukirain
Ravindrakumar : Anand can you throw some light on blind fold game, how it is played and how you will bale able to remeber the positions
Viswanathan Anand : Blindfold games can be played in various ways. In Monaco, we play with a chess board on a notebook/laptop screen where the pieces dont appear. We try to mentally keep the position on the chessboard and if we forget some detail then one can still try and recover the position because the last half move and the move number are displayed.
vijayan : hi V.Anand, we know that machines can do many things that ordinarily humans cannot. chess is one game where humans are still thought to have upper hand. do u foresee that one day robots can regularly beat humans at chess? ur comments on this..
Viswanathan Anand : I think right now computers are already at the stage where they win often against humans. However, humans are still competitive if they are well rested. I mean that if they have not played other sort of events recently and have not exhausted themselves. Playing against other humans and playing against machines require totally different approaches. So thats why one needs to be fresh for such an event.
Anuj : Hi Anand , Congrats for your victory at Leon. I went through all 4 games, you were great in defence in 3rd game and sacrifices in 2nd and 4th. Congrats once again.
Viswanathan Anand : Thank you very much Anuj.I was very strong with white but shaky with black and I was only able to save the 3rd game through extreme efforts.
asifs : this is asif again from bangalore? please provide us some tips how to learn and play the chess effectively.Is there any training available for chess?what about you opening an chess acaedmy to promote chess and to nurture good talents
Viswanathan Anand : I think the best way to improve is to practice often and then based on your experience to work on your weaknesses. Books with tips to improve in various ways are useful, but only if one knows what one is looking for.
Anandkumar : You are a good guy
Viswanathan Anand : Thank you Anandkumar
z : what's the last book you read?
Viswanathan Anand : The last book I read was the Da Vinci code.
TEJ : how good is ur spanish?
Viswanathan Anand : I am reasonably fluent. I am able to give interviews and the like in Spanish. Recently I was chosen along with the King of Spain and several famous sportsmen and artist to read 'Don Quijote' on Spanish television.
VJV : What other games do you follow Vishy
Viswanathan Anand : I follow Spanish soccer. I have recently gotten into Formula One due to Fernando Alonso and our own Narain Karthikeyan. I also regularly follow tennis.
rs : Who do you will be the most promising GM, after you, from India ?
Viswanathan Anand : At the moment Harikrishna and Sasikiran are the next in line followed by Ganguly and Kunte.
deepakverma : What do U like to eat? I cook very well
Viswanathan Anand : Do you make Rasam?
Neerav : Do you physically get tired after completing a game or a big game?
Viswanathan Anand : I am tired after certain games but usually my body copes and I only feel the physical toll at the end of an event.
hisri : When a child should start learing chess, Is it necessary to have a good coach
Viswanathan Anand : It is useful for the child to have guidance but please choose carefully taking into account the child's preferences because one must keep the child's interest in chess alive. Too much training can be detrimental.
Sivaram : Hi Vish! Wats ur most unforgettable game and with whom?
Viswanathan Anand : I remember my win against Ftacnik in 1993 for the beauty, my win against Shirov in game 4 in Teheran for giving me the World title. And my game against Bologan from Dortmund 2003 for winning both the best games and the best novelty of the year.
Anandaram : Anand Kasparov always tried to humiliate you. Why is that
Viswanathan Anand : Its normal to try and psyche your opponents. Thats simply comes with the territory.
Snehasish : Anand....what can be done to improve the popularity of chess in our country?
Viswanathan Anand : I think working with the media and getting corporate sponsors to make the sport more professional is the way forward.
navneet : Hi Anand, this is navneet again, (patiently waiting for response to my prev Q). I am in UK and am going to work..wish you the very best for World Championship.
Viswanathan Anand : Hi Navneet, can you send your question again.
anupam : Hi Anand,playing which player did u find most difficult( rather challenging).... Kasparov or vladimir kramnik??
Viswanathan Anand : I found Kasparov tougher than Kramnik, but each year someone comes into form and then he is the guy you have to deal with.
aditya : hi i am aditya udeshi whom u gave a price yesterday
Viswanathan Anand : Hi Aditya.
Anuj : I once read that Kasparov had so much resources with him that he surprised people in the opening itself by making novelties. Whats your take on this. Cant you do the same.
Viswanathan Anand : I believe that working hard was the key to his success. 20 years ago the resources he had such as seconds and the support of the Soviet State were a big advantage. But now the field is much more level and each one has to just work hard.
amit75 : hi anand i m amit from delhi ,i just want to know that at what platform does this world percieve india in chess with respect to the brain strength we indians have
Viswanathan Anand : I think especially in the US and the UK, but also slowly in the rest of the world Indi's image is improving. Now they respect our knowledge and dont focus exclusively on our poverty. Along with that our image in chess has improved as well and is taken seriously.
rsvvek : who is your favourite tamil actor?
Viswanathan Anand : Rajnikant.
Harry : hello Mr. Anand....how r u??do u watch cricket...? if yes, who is ur favourite cricketer???
Viswanathan Anand : I follow the World Cup every four years. But otherwise, I am not a heavy follower of cricket. If India wins the World Cup then I will have a favourite player.
deepakverma : Fow how many hours do you practice in a day?
Viswanathan Anand : 2 to 3 hours if I am just catching up with all the recent developments and anywhere between 5 to 9 hours when I am in a serious training camp. I also strive to have chess free days.
vivekanandmohan : hi anand will u please answer my question? What is the thought process of a chess player when he plays, does he think of all the moves or does the next move come automatically to you
Viswanathan Anand : Each one has a different thought process. I am more intutitive than logical.
abhi : anand, why did u choose to live in spain????
Viswanathan Anand : Abhi pls refer to my earlier answer.
Sathya : If u get a chance to judge Miss.Universe.. wud u? If yes what wud u ask in the final round
Viswanathan Anand : I judged Miss India once in 1997 and I would probably accept a chance to judge Miss Universe as well.I cannot give away my secret question..:-)
satyan : mr. anand, do you follow tennis? what do u think of our young sania mirza? does she have it to make it to the top 10?
Viswanathan Anand : I think it is creditable that she has so many firsts in India. But now she has to work to be amongst the best.
Anandaram : Topalov's Chess in recent times indicates that he is vying for No.1 spot in chess. How are you going to face this challenge
Viswanathan Anand : Topalov has been in great form recently and this is always a stimulus for the others including myself. I will work hard starting in mid July both for Mainz and for the World Championship.
sanjukol : what will be right age to start chess plyaer for a child ? who is the best chess player in the world u think?
Viswanathan Anand : I think the best stage is when the child shows interest. Some kids have even begun at 2. so leave a chess board nearby and see what happens.
Hari : Hi ANAND!! IS PLAYIN CHESS WITH MY COMPUTER A GOOD IDEA?? SHOULD I PRACTICE WITH SOME PERSON??
Viswanathan Anand : Anything in moderation is good. Playing with computers is useful for tactical training and because they are available anytime. but one should always mix that with over the board play.
mskhetan : Hi Vish!!!I had seen one of your interviews on TV where u said u r quite comfortable with playing black, whts ur favorite first move with white...
Viswanathan Anand : Its funny, but these things change every few years. Some years ago I hardly won with black. But now I win quite often. With white, the overwhelming majority of my games begin with 1E4
mallik_bulusu : Congrats Anand for frequently winning the Oscar for India. This one was always eluding us on the Bollywood front :-)
Viswanathan Anand : Thank you very much Mallik. I hope Bollywood will get one as well soon.
shankarv : Do blind games produce theoretical novelties ?You are an expert in rapid chess. When your rapid games are analysed after the game, do computers agree with all your moves as good ?
Viswanathan Anand : Yes Blind games are as well played as the other formats since the participants are used to the format by playing 11 games a year in Monte Carlo.
Viswanathan Anand : Thank you everyone. Good bye.