I'm improvising constantly, says Anand

Viswanathan Anand says he's experimenting with his style of play to improvise his game.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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India's chess champion, Viswanathan Anand, is in Chennai for a well-deserved rest. He spoke exclusively to NDTV about the past year's performance, how he's preparing for upcoming tournaments and, most importantly, how he sometimes needs to be a risk-taker. NDTV: Are you entirely satisfied with the way the year has been for you chess wise? Anand: Well, I won Wijk Aan Zee in January, then Monaco and Denmark. Basically I can say I won every event except Linares. This is probably the only thing I am not completely satisfied with. Of course, I was very close to winning it, but overall, yeah I am quite pleased with the way it's been going. NDTV: You have been talking about re-inventing your style -- is it really possible to do this in chess? Anand: I think I am expanding from what I used to be - quite narrow. I am now trying out lots and lots of different openings and automatically there comes in the question of style and so on. Let's say I'm just experimenting - sort of wild at this point. There is no plan really. If I feel like trying out something I just go ahead and try it and see how that shapes up. NDTV: When you talk about improvising, you must be doing it at a practice session. How does it work? Anand: The problem is, in a practice session you sort of convince yourself that it won't work, so you end up discouraging yourself. I find it easier to experiment when I haven't sort of analyzed it to the end. NDTV: But isn't it a bit of a risk if you are actually doing it when you're in a tournament or in a serious chess round? Anand: The way I've been approaching it is to not prepare anything. What I do is I go ahead and make a move and then it's out of your hands -- because there is no way back and then I find it a lot easier to continue taking risks. NDTV: How about this year? You've got half the year left and you have still have some important tournaments lined up… Anand: The way for me, tournaments and rest, seem to come like feast and famine. I had four months of continuous chess and now I have a four-month break and then end July I will start playing. Then it looks like I will play all the way upto next April, give or take a few weeks here and there. So what I'm going to try and do is probably a little for the first two events - Dortmund and Mainz - both are very important events. Then there's a whole series coming - starting October all the way till December. But I think the main thing is just to focus on one thing. In my case I am trying to get my rating up. I would like to get back the No. 2 spot. When I had a bad year I dropped quite far behind that ranking, but now the difference is narrowed quite a bit. NDTV: Now you're in the number three position… Anand: Yes, number three, but the difference is still there in terms of points, but hopefully it is something I can make up for later this year. NDTV: Do you think that Dortmund can get you back to the number two position? Anand: That would be a little too ambitious, to make up 25 rating points in one tournament ,which means I will have to outperform Kramnik, Leko and all those other guys by about 3 or 4 points. I don't think this is realistic, but slowly over three or four tournaments, hopefully I can get there. NDTV: We've seen you do a lot of exhibition rounds when you come home. I've personally seen you involved with a lot of people who love to be playing with 'the Viswanathan Anand'. Anand: I think it's nice to play with kids or celebrities or whoever. I think it's important to also promote the game. NDTV: What do you think overall about sportspersons of your calibre promoting products? Anand: I think it is something positive - certainly with NIIT there are some very healthy initiatives. If my fame can help push that along it's a great thing. Also these days as a sportsperson that just comes along with the territory. NDTV: Are you in touch with the Indian chess scenario the way it is right now, which way do you see it going? Anand: I think one of the good things about the Internet is I am much more in touch with the Indian chess scenario and with Indian news in general. NDTV: Watching NDTV I hope... Anand: Yes, the dotcom. It's always nice to go to the sites and now the news is much more accessible. NDTV: I think Indian chess is doing very healthily. Of course, there's nothing to report on a year-to-year basis because this thing is going to take like a decade or something. but steadily you can see at the age group under 12, under 14, under 16 and so on, we are expanding. If you compare with the rest of the world it is quite remarkable. Having said that, we will not see the results of this for six to 10 years, by the time these people get into their 20s and so on. But all the indications are very, very positive and they are all working very hard. NDTV: Well Anand, I hope that you are going to be around for another 20 years at least to keep this gap filled until the juniors come up to your level. Anand: I hope so. I am certainly very far from thinking of moving on. I still enjoy the competition and everything quite a lot and I am really looking forward to playing top chess for quite a few years.