Vishwanathan Anand


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Anand's Biography

(Source : www.rebel.nl)

The below Career description of Anand is written by his wife Aruna Anand.

Chess Career- Vishy Anand

Viswanathan Anand, popularly known as "Vishy, the Tiger from Madras" learnt chess at the tender age of six. His assets, his lightning speed of play & intuition saw him through as the Youngest National Champion at the age of 16.

In 1987 he became the First Asian to win the World Junior Championship. He also earned the coveted Grandmaster title. He carved a special place on the chessboard by winning the strongest tournament at that time, The "Reggio Emilia" in Italy in 1991 ahead of Kasparov & Karpov.

He has been a World Championship challenger in the PCA(New York 1995) & FIDE(1997 Lausanne) cycles. He has the distinction of winning the Strongest knock out tournament in recent chess history in Groningen in December 1997.

He has also won the Linares Super Torneo in 1998, the strongest tournament at this point. His other great victories include the Melody Amber tournament (1994 & 1997), the Credit Suisse Masters (1997), Dos Hermanas (1997) and Wijk Aan Zee(1998).

Anand is currently rated NUMBER Two in the World in both the rating lists, namely, the PCA & the FIDE lists.

Anand has been awarded many prestigious titles in India like the Arjuna Award, the Padmashri (the youngest recipient of the title), the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the Soviet Land Nehru award, the BPL Achievers of the World, Sportstar, Sportsworld "Sportsman of the year 1995" Award.

Anand holds a degree in commerce, his other hobbies are reading, swimming & listening to music.

Anand, known as the "One man Indian Chess revolution," keenly promotes the game, through innovative methods in the country, where the game first originated.

He lives in Collado Mediano in Spain with his wife Aruna


One morning his e-mail was there. What was the best thing a parent ever said to you, he had been asked. Now he wrote back: "Once when I was introducing my parents to a chess aficionado, he told them how my talent was among the world's greatest. My father replied that it was not chess but being a nice person untouched by fame that made me great. This compliment stays very dear in my memory."

It was very Vishy.

Individual sport is a self- centred activity, and it follows often that modern champions are happiest in the company of their own reflection. Fame, to be fair, can be exhausting and claustrophic and so wonderfully seductive. Yet with Vishy, never a prisoner of his brilliance, a humanness lingered.

It was the small things. Saying one morning two years ago before an interview, "Can I bring my computer, it will help you understand?" And then arriving, putting his feet up on a friend's bed and watching Leander Paes play on television. It was walking with his agent Kuruvilla Abraham to a Mercedes hired for them by a sponsor in Delhi, and Abraham saying, "Hell, I'd like one of these", and Vishy adding, "Hell, so would I". It was young players cluttering his e-mail box with messages, and he, tired, never deleting them but actually answering them. And explaining why: "This is somehow very reassuring. It gives you the feeling that your work is really important. It is a very special feeling to be aware that your moves mean more than just mere results to many people."

Maybe it was his unathleticness for a sportsman, his relative anonymity that he wore with a shrug, that made him seem this regular guy.

When, of course, he clearly was not.

He was, if anything, salvation. And here's why. We'd had Ramanathan Krishnan and Milkha Singh and Michael Ferreira and Prakash Padukone and Geet Sethi, all world-class heroes in individual sports, except when you looked again they were (Geet excluded) all gone, heroes in the books. What remained of a billion people was more or less one man (pause and imagine that), a solitary Indian challenger to individual sporting greatness.

The chess player, who looks like he hums Bach in his bath, when actually it's Freddie Mercury.

Child prodigies tend to disappoint, that river of exceptional promise too often a cheeky stream all puffed up in the monsoon. All sportsmen shine initially, then they plateau -- to ascend again, and again, to find new levels, is the laboratory proof of a sportsperson's calibre. "Improve, invent, practise, persevere," a voice rebounds inside the skull of the great.

At 17, Vishy became a Grandmaster (GM). At 27, he's world No. 2. He hears that voice every day.

If all sports have an emotional geography, a sort of heart of a game, then for chess it is Russia. To be born there, to be born in India, in just that we see some of Vishy's uniqueness. In the late '80s when he began to advance, India had seven-eight International Masters (IMs) and not a single gm; the Soviet Union had 200 GMs or more. It means the young Russian digests rapidly that first axiom to progress -- play with better players. He knows too his fellow man has walked to greatness, the road ahead thus less daunting. Not Vishy. Like Padukone, he was the first to walk on his moon.

Yet his raw material was staggering, a congregation of memory, logic, reason, concentration. The synapses in his brain seemed to fire faster than Wyatt Earp, and he had seen the board, noted the moves, travelled deep into his memory, dissected each option, foreseen where he would be six moves ahead down four different roads, and found his answer quicker than you could draw breath.

There was one thing more. Beyond the mere application of stored knowledge, or the virtue of clear reasoning, he possessed what the Oxford Dictionary calls, "an immediate insight". It is intuition, to just know, to sense which move smells of danger without explanation. It must be the gift of genius.

Genius does not guarantee immortality. We saw when he flirted fatally with impetuosity in the 11th game against Garry Kasparov at the 1995 PCA World Championship finals. We saw it again in the 1998 fide World Championship, when though tired -- he played seven opponents in one month to qualify to play against a fresh Anatoly Karpov -- he tripped on the rug to the victory podium. "Inexperience," he says, and his sterling record makes a debate unwise.

He has beaten everyone, won the highest-rated tournaments, yet perhaps still we fail to gauge his standing. It is a stature that finds easy illustration. Each year 250-odd chess journalists vote to decide who wins the year's chess Oscar. In an era where Kasparov and Karpov have reigned, where, says chess writer Arvind Aaron, "50 per cent of the voters are Russians", Anand won in 1997 and 1998.

But I see his greatness in a different reflection, in the effect one silent man over a board can have. K. Murali Mohan, joint secretary of the Tamil Nadu Chess Association, says that in 1990, an average of a 100 children entered local chess tournaments; today it is 400 and more. The catalyst has been Anand, the giver of dreams, his reputation a sort of elixir of greatness that young players drink from. As he rose, he has taken Indian chess with him. Today there are over 20 IMs; there are two more GMs; there is Koneru Humpy and Aarti Ramaswamy and P. Harikrishna all teenage world champions.

In just this, this small string of names, we understand best this man's greatness.

(Source : www.india-today.com)


The Week in Chess Magazine
Sponsored by the London Chess Center

(Source : www.chesscenter.com)

Anand interview for TWIC with John Henderson

JBH: Vishy, 1998 was a good year for you; winning everything in sight. 1999 was a bad year; Kasparov returned with vengeance to dominate the chess year with some unbelievable performances. Is it time for you make a comeback this year to reassert your challenger status?

Anand: "I guess so, yes. But, to be honest, in 1999, whilst relative to Kasparov's performance it looked bad, it wasn't really such a bad year on my part."

JBH: Do you think you stand a good chance of winning Linares 2000?

Anand: "I don't know. I don't really think like that. I just turn up at tournaments and play my chess and see what happens. With tournaments like Linares, I think you play to the best of your abilities and see how everyone else performs. This was my attitude in 1998, so it's nothing new I've come up with. That's how I go: I turn up at tournaments, play my chess, try my best and see how it goes. I don't see the point of speculating too much. I just like to play and see how things develop."

JBH: At the Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee, a lot of the players complained that they lacked energy and found the going tough. They weren't really "in the mood" - maybe something to do with the flu bug that was circulating. Do you think that here in Linares that the players are "up for a fight"?

Anand: "In Wijk aan Zee you could clearly see that something was wrong. There were several games where I'd leave a pawn hanging then wake up and start fighting. But I noticed that I wasn't the only one with these problems. Somehow everyone was afflicted - except perhaps Peter Leko. Even Kasparov had very shaky Black's - but full credit to him, he scored +6, the rest of us [Anand, Kramnik & Leko] made +3. Well, as for this tournament, we'll just have to wait and see. It depends on how the games go in the first few days before you can tell these things. I think everyone is really motivated - they were also in Wijk but for some reason something was missing. I can't explain it. The same tournament in 1999 and 1998 were really spectacular affairs but this year the chess was really "crappy". So I hope that Linares goes better."

JBH: Moving on to your world championship match with Garry Kasparov, all the journalists here have heard it was going to take place last year, maybe this year. What are your own thoughts? When do you think it will take place? And if it does, what sort of sponsorship level do you think it will attract?

Anand: "I really don't know. Honestly, I think last year we had a very good chance. If the same team [Bessel Kok & Serge Grimaux] came back to me, I would give them another shot. Sometimes these things just happen and it doesn't work out - I don't know why. To be honest, I haven't had any contact with Serge Grimaux after that. I still haven't been told what actually happened and why the whole thing fell through."

"Basically, after September 1999 it was a bit of a let down for me. I'd been training for two months getting keyed up for the match when suddenly it got cancelled. I had the rest of the year off so I spent some time back home in India and had a good time. But nothing much has changed since then so I've no idea what sponsorship level it will attract now. Personally, I don't see why $3 million is overpriced if you have a team putting on a good event that can generate huge publicity relative to other sports like athletics for example. It's not the sponsorship level or anything; I think it's a question of finding the right deal."

"Also, it doesn't help that the chess world - to the outside world - looks like one "big mess" and that doesn't help matters either. I don't really know if it'll happen this year or not - I just don't keep on top of these things nowadays. However, if someone comes along with a realistic offer, then we'll talk. But I've not been telephoning Garry everyday or following the developments on this!"

JBH: Following on from that. I've read so many newspaper stories in the last year or so highlighting the growth of computer technology in India. This in turn has resulted in several Indians becoming multimillionaires in the Bill Gates league. If, say, one of them came along with a genuine offer to sponsor a match between you and Garry in your homeland, would you take it?

Anand: "I certainly would! But Garry has made it clear since our PCA match in 1995 that there would be a clause in all contracts that said any match between us wouldn't be played in Russia or India. This same clause was written into the 1998 contract. I personally would like to play in my homeland. And if it were, I'm sure it would be well organised."

JBH: It would be nice to see a top-level chess tournament in India like this one in Linares. I understand that some arrangements are being made for an event to take place this year, which you will take part in. Is that correct?

Anand: "The organiser of the proposed event said he was going to find the sponsorship for a top-level tournament in India. Naturally, I told him I would play if he got it together. As yet, he's still looking so we're still very much in the embryonic stage just now. But I hope it does happen."

JBH: Have you any message for TWIC readers?

Anand: "I'd just like to wish them - along with Mark Crowther - all the best and I hope they have a successful Linares tournament to follow."

JBH: Vishy Anand, thank you very much.


The Rediff Sports Interview/ Vishwanathan Anand

(Source : www.rediff.com)

'Karpov is the world champion in political lobbying'

The year gone by wasn't all that good for Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand. At least not how he hoped it would be in terms of success on the chess board. Just a couple of good tournaments including a 5-1 victory over Anatoly Karpov. By his own admission, it was indeed "a lousy year" though he had the honour of winning the Chess Oscar for the second consecutive time for his fine showing in 1998.

The 30-year-old World No 2 was in Madras recently to spend some time with his parents, as the 'big' match between Garry Kasparov and him was cancelled. Shobha Warrier caught up with him at his home. He was relaxed and in a mood to talk. Which he did for nearly an hour.

Do you generally make any New Year resolutions?

I make resolutions but not on January 1st. It could be in June or in September or anytime. I dont think January 1st has got anything special. I work differently. If I have a really good tournament ahead, I might tell myself, 'okay I have to be on the right track. I must win this', or something like that. I might take resolutions of that sort. So, it has nothing to do with any date. It could be at any time in the year. Same with the millennium too!

Do you plan your tournaments well in advance for a particular year?

Yes, as much as possible. You know when most tournaments are held. They have been like that for decades. So, they are fairly stable. But there are also many new tournaments emerging every year. For instance, there is a new tradition in Israel, just started. Now I am going to play a tournament there. This is the first year or the second year of the tournament. Obviously, it was not easy to plan that far in advance. But it is quite nice to plan things.

Do you plan in advance how you are going to play a game against a particular player?

You keep working in general because chess itself is constantly changing and you cannot plan well in advance. What you can do is, get yourself in the habit of working so that you are more or less up-to-date.

In what way is chess as a game changing?

I mean the technical stuff. The theory, evaluations, etc are constantly changing.

1998 had been a dream year for you. You won the Chess Oscar, won tournaments at Linares, Madrid and Frankfurt, but 1999 was not as good as 1998.

It was pretty lousy. Okay but I had had one really good result, excellent result, in Holland. After that, it was a very, very average year. Yes, I had a very good result in Spain where I beat Karpov 5-1. I had these two very good results, a couple of stable results and then one really bad result. So, there was nothing special last year. I was working for the climax, which was the World Championship against Kasparov, and it didn't happen. You can do nothing about that. Obviously, 1999 was not my best year.

By the end of every year, do you analyse all the games that you had played?

In general, yes. But a year doesn't mean much to me. If you are playing badly, for instance, in April, then in May you have to do some work and figure out whats going on. It is not like, every December you look back. Its not like an accounting year. You are continuously working on your game. Yes, I do look back often but it has nothing to do with the end of the year.

Was it because Kasparov came back with a bang in 1999 that your results look not that good? He achieved a remarkable rating of 2852.

He had a spectacular year, especially the first two events. I think he won everything that he played this year. I think, it is also clear that this years Oscar will go to him. But I don't think it is because he had a good year that I had a not-so-good year. It so happens, after two years, sometimes you get a bad year. If I keep on winning year after year, it will be very easy. It is true he played extremely well. But he played very well in Holland and I did equally well there. I was just half a point behind him. I wouldn't say his good play affected me. Probably, well, at Linares I had already gone wrong.

Some experts say the rating of 2852 is very difficult to achieve. Is that so?

No, not really. He had some very good results and he got it at the right tournaments. In the lower category events, you get only less points. Whereas he did them in category 19 and 20 events and as a result, his ratings went up proportionately.

Do you feel he is unbeatable? Is there any aura of invincibility around him?

He is very good. I don't think he is invincible.

How do you describe him as a player?

Is the whole interview about him?

No, no. I am sorry.

I was just joking.

Chess is a game where mental toughness is essential. Is physical fitness also as important? Does physical fitness help you become mentally tough?

Yes, absolutely. You have to be able to concentrate and concentration, okay, is a mental thing. But you need physical stamina. Of course, you need to train to concentrate. It is not enough to be able to run ten kilometres. You need to train yourself to concentrate. You can do training exercises like practicing by placing a clock and thinking for half an hour and things like that. It is very easy to get distracted. You cannot let your mind wander.

You have to really be able to concentrate. It is also physical because if you dont have the energy, if you have a weak body, your mind is also weak. Only a strong body has a strong mind.

What kind of exercises do you do to remain physically fit? Do you play any other games?

I do a lot of exercises, but not so much games with other people. I tend to do things alone. For example, I go cycling. I dont go with any group; I go alone. I also cycle at home. I go swimming. Once in a while, I play some tennis or table tennis. But in general, I try to do exercises alone.

Are you basically a loner?

No, not at all. If you want to exercise at 11 o'clock, it is very difficult to find partners! They all go to work.

When you are cycling alone, do you try to concentrate?

No, I think it is too much. I don't think you should be obsessed with the idea of concentrating. You should build up concentration naturally.

You are the number two chess player in the world and you have been playing chess for a long time. How much has the game changed you as a person?

I don't know. I think people evolve over the years anyway. It is very difficult for me to say about myself. Just because I am a top player, nothing changes.

Life is different for a top player, isn't it so?

It is. I don't deny that. On the other hand, I tend to meet other top players too. So, I don't think it is something so special. Okay, certainly it is an achievement. But it is not like, 'okay I am a top player. So, I am different'. I think I am a very normal person. I don't think I changed this way or that way because I am a top chess player.

You are a celebrity in India. Is it because you stay in Spain that you feel your life is as normal as anybody else's?

I think it all depends on how you deal with it. If you are a sportsman, you will always have fans. Generally, I don't think, it bothers me that much. In fact, I like it. It is a pleasant feeling that what you do means something to lot of other people. On the other hand, life goes on

You are the first Indian to break into the international chess scene. Till then it was dominated only by Europeans and Russians. How did they look at a person from India winning major tournaments?

I think only the press looks at it from that angle. The organisers were quite happy initially because a player from India was there. Okay, may be in the first year, people talk, 'there's an Indian in the tournament, let's see how he plays'. After that, it doesn't matter much from where you come. They realise it doesn't make much difference.

Yes, there was some novelty value in the beginning. But now they just see me as Anand, they don't see me as a player representing any country. I don't see the other players in terms of their nationality too. Very often, you speak to them and you know them as friends, that's all.

What is the kind of relationship that exists among the top chess players? Can you be friends?

Of course, we can be friends. In fact, among the top ten, I think, almost all of them have at some point, come and stayed with me in my house. I have gone out to dinner with almost everyone in the chess world. Sometimes, after we play a game, we go out and eat together. Generally, I think, the relations are excellent.

In general, I am friends with boys of my age, or let's say five or six years younger but not more than that. They are the ones I tend to hang on. You get to know people in the circuit after a while. Then, even age doesn't matter. There are fifty year olds with whom I go out for dinner quite often and then you don't think of the age difference at all. After all, we share so much time in front of the chessboard and that is what counts.

Of course, there are always one or two people I wouldn't really become too friendly with. I wouldn't say, there is a problem. For instance, Karpov and Kasparov. Their rivalry is quite intense, still they talk to each other. But there is a certain amount of tension between them. That is one famous example. Also, Korchnoi had this tense relation with Karpov. For the lower part, this is not the norm.

Do you have such tense relations with anyone?

No, not too much. I mean, in general. If I really don't like someone, we just avoid each other. We don't make a big deal out of it by fighting or anything of that sort.

When you go out for dinner with a chess player after a game, do you discuss chess or something else?

We discuss everything. We discuss chess too. Sometimes we discuss a game we played or something like that.

Karpov is in his forties and Kasparov in his thirties. What do you feel is the reason why they remain at the top even at this age?

They are both all-time greats. You can also say the same thing about Korchnoi. Korchnoi, I would say, was there at the top more by the force of his will power. But these two are really all-time greats. But it is not the norm. What they are doing is something really amazing. Karpov has been at the top for almost thirty years, since 1970 roughly, when he broke into the top twenty! So, he is in the top twenty for the last thirty years!

It is because of a lot of factors. It is will power, it is talent, it is luck; it is a bit of everything. There are many great players who did not have Karpov's luck. Sometimes they don't make it in the crucial events, sometimes their family life was not happy and sometimes they have health problems A lot of such factors can intervene. They are talented, they have tremendous will power and they could overtake whatever problems that came along and thus they could stay at the top.

In general, I would say, definitely Karpov and Kasparov had luck. It is not to take any credit away. For instance, we can look at someone like Keres or Spassky. The State did not support them the way it supported these people. Still, I would definitely place these two as all-time greats.

Karpov manages to play only in the finals of the FIDE world championship, while the other players have to go through several hurdles. Last year, you went to play against him tired, after playing for a month. Is he not manipulating the championship?

I think, it is just a farce! I consider Karpov as the World champion from 1975 to 1985, that is it. I do not consider him world champion any point afterwards.

Didn't you protest last year?

There is no use. He is very good in politics and FIDE basically was very irresponsible in what they did. They made him the world champion for the second time. This time, he had no right to it. And then, he got the privileges of the World Champion, like playing only in the last round and so on. Anyway.. I consider him an all-time great because he was the world champion from '75-85. After that, he is the world champion in political lobbying. FIDE really disgraced itself by doing this.

You must be very disappointed because the much-awaited match between you and Kasparov did not take place.


The whole world was looking forward to the match.

I was really looking forward to the match. But sometimes, these things happen. You cannot do anything about it.

Will it take place sometime in 2000?

I don't know. There are some chances. I think it is better not to get excited about it till it actually happens. In fact, I can tell you honestly that in the last one month, I haven't given it any thought.

Newspapers described it as the match of the titans.

There were many people who thought it would really be an exciting match. It might have given a real boost to chess at this time. Chess is becoming very popular these days.

Why couldn't they find a sponsor?

They had a sponsor but at the eleventh hour, he pulled out and they didn't have time to find another sponsor. I think, if they started looking, they could have. It might be April, it might be June things might change. So, there is no point in speculating till it actually happens.

Recently, in one of your interviews, you said that you had to improve a lot to beat Kasparov. Which are the areas that you feel you have to improve?

I think I have to improve a lot. Period. Not to beat Kasparov alone but beat anyone. Generally I am happy with my game but it is time now for me to look back. I think it can happen after years of very good results. If I look at my own games, it is clear that I was not playing perfect chess. I dont think anybody plays perfect chess! I didnt play perfect chess in '97 and '98. I just took chances and I won a lot of games and had very good results.

If I look at the games, I find that I made a lot of mistakes, like everybody else. I think Kasparov made a lot of mistakes in '99. You dont understand chess if you think people can play perfect chess. It doesn't work that way.You will always find new things. So I made that comment in that sense.

A lot of people, after reading the interview thought, felt the difference between him and me has grown! I dont dispute that I am the one who has to prove. His results over the last fifteen years are far more impressive than mine. I had a couple of very good years but he has been the world champion. But I dont think the difference has grown or anything like that. I was talking in general about having to improve as a player.

To beat the Number one player ...

Yes. Anyway, I have to improve not just to beat him but anyone.

Do players become complacent after sometime, especially if you are winning more and losing less?

This can happen. You would say it is complacence. But it implies somehow that you become careless. What happens is that, when you are playing, you tend to look at the problems that you had before. And if you dont have many problems for quite sometime, then you get stuck at where you are. In that sense, a few setbacks from time to time are very good because it motivates you to perform better.

I wouldnt say, I was really complacent. I think what happens is your self-confidence - something which is very good, as without self-confidence you can do nothing in chess - grows, grows and grows. But at some point, other people start getting used to you and your style. So, after sometime, you have to start developing new ideas and new trends.

So you also must be changing your style quite often

Yes. You are always looking at all your old analysis, games and try to find out new ideas and new positions. Without that, it is not possible to play chess because things get worked out. If you dont find new ideas, people can just stop you in your lane.

Since mental toughness is very important in chess, do players try to intimidate the player on the other side of the board psychologically?

Generally, no. Maybe, it is a bad habit. It was very popular in the Soviet days. Now nobody does it anymore. The young Russian players dont bother about doing this. Like I said, if you have a good relationship, you dont try to do such things. You just try to play good moves and yes, intimidate the other guy by playing good chess. I wouldnt say, it is a big problem anymore.

Certainly there are a few people like Kasparov who is well-known for his faces and things like that. Again, I wouldnt take it too much out of context. In general, it is not a major problem. I think, the best way to intimidate someone is play good moves!

While playing, do you try to suppress your real feelings? After a good move, do you show your satisfaction? What do you do if you feel very angry or disappointed inside after a bad move?

It varies from person to person. It varies from moment to moment too. Sometimes, you are so happy that you cant control it. Other times, you keep a poker face! You make a really lousy move and sometimes, you are able to hide that very well and pretend that everything is very normal, hoping that the other guy wont notice it. Sometimes, you make such a bad move that you cant help hitting your head. It varies. In general, the basis of chess as a sport is, you try not to let your opponent see whats inside your mind. And, I have a poker face most of the time. At least that is what other people tell me.

Generally Indians are supposed to be very emotional. Do you consciously suppress your feelings and remain poker faced?

You can be emotional and at the same time have a poker face! My emotions go up and down during a game but there are other people who really dont care. Of course, I feel all the tension inside. But I try to remain poker faced. Your mother can always spot the emotions, you know. She just looks at your face and tells you, this is the same face you had when you were four years old and you did something wrong. They know immediately.

You said the other day that when you first started playing chess there was no software available at all. On the other hand, todays young players can have access to so many software programs to improve their game. How much has chess as a game changed or benefited due to Internet and the software revolution?

Its made everything much faster. The information cycle goes much faster. For example, if I play a good idea in one tournament and by that evening, that is, within five minutes, everyone in the world has it. All the other top players know about it immediately. Earlier, you had to wait one month till a booklet with all the games played in certain important tournaments was mailed to your house. Now, it takes just five minutes.

Also, you have to work much harder; so does everyone else. A lot of things have become easier. Technology wont make your life more difficult or easy, it just changes the rules. It has closed some areas of the game too; the areas of the game that you can work on the computer. A lot of things are more difficult to do. You cant catch people and trap anymore as they check everything, the probability of error, on the computer.

On the other hand, it has opened up new doors. There are many positions which were terribly complicated. Humans can generally decide these things in five minutes but we cannot be hundred percent sure unless you check everything mathematically. There are positions which you used to leave to a team of four people to double check for two weeks but now you leave a computer running overnight and by morning, you are almost sure that its been checked. You still have to test one or two things because the computer can evaluate things badly. In general, everything has become much faster. In a nutshell, it has been very good for the sport.

Earlier, someone like Karpov had a big advantage over the others because the Soviet state arranged seconds for them; arranged training camps for them. They used to tell five or six Grandmasters to work for this guy. So, people from outside had enormous disadvantage over the Soviet players. Take for example, someone like Fisher. The reason why he was such a hero was because despite such a big disadvantage, he was still able to beat them. You will see that these two guys had a big advantage in the eighties because they had this team constantly supplying them with fresh ideas.

Nowadays, if I find a good idea, I check it with my friend by e-mail. He may be living in St.Petersburg or Israel or Moscow but I can e-mail and ask him, what do you think of this idea? I do this a lot with my friends. In a way, we are able to train together despite the distances. So, there are many aspects. It is difficult to say whether it is good or bad. In certain areas, it has been good and in certain areas, it has been bad.

Bad, in what way?

It forced us to work a lot on computers and the number of variations has grown enormously. It is easier because you can double-check everything. But now you have to remember much more. Also, it used to be an art in itself to analyse the adjourned games. Now that area has completely disappeared. We dont have adjourned games anymore because we have computers everywhere.

The older generation who are not very conversant with computers probably feels that computers came along and outclassed them. Maybe people who are around 45 could have had a longer career if they knew how to use computers. Okay, this is true with any technology. My point is, if you ask hundred people, twenty may say, it is a bad thing.

You talked about the kind of help the Russian players got from the state even in the eighties. It might have been tough for you too initially

I think it didnt help many of the Russian players as well. Only the Russian top benefited from the state support and a lot of others didnt benefit. Now many players have access to all the best tools.

Were you also disadvantaged in the beginning?

No, I wouldnt say in general I was disadvantaged. I was one of the first people to get used to the new technology. In 1987, I was only a World junior champion. At that time, there was still quite a bridge to be passed to reach their level.

You played against Fritz and Rebel last year. How different was it playing a machine and a human being?

I dont mind playing against a computer once in a while. It is a different experience because you try not to play tactical positions and thats a disadvantage.

Do you have to change your game against the machine?

Yes, you change it. You try to play strategic positions, very boring positions because computers are quite helpless in these positions. And, there is no psychology involved in a game against the computers. For the human, it has only negative effects because in almost any position, the first impulse is not to play the natural move. The first impulse is to play an anti-computer move. This is not natural. Against a human being, you wouldnt do that. You wouldnt say, I am going to play an anti-Karpov move or an anti-Kasparov move. You try to play only the best move. And, this will produce the best result in the end. But against computers, you are almost always trying to avoid tactics because the odds are against you in this matter.

Sometimes, I can save some positions very easily with the computer that I could never save against a human being. Many computers simply dont understand certain things till it's too late. I have saved many games with computers because they had no clue. I know immediately whats going to happen in 25 moves, lets say. Because certain positions are like that you can tell, okay after the next fifteen moves, you can manoeuver and you can wait. But the computer doesnt know the concept of waiting. It calculates. It can calculate infinitely and get into a position whereas I understand that it cant escape a trap.

A human understands that without any calculation, but a computer, no matter how much it calculates, it cannot understand that. So, as soon as it gets into such positions, you can completely relax. Then, the psychology is working positively. You feel very good and start playing excellently.

In general, I think, it is negative because it affects the humans. We have not learnt how to be really cold and emotionless against these machines. May be they should program some emotions also into computers to even it. Clearly, computers dont win games because they are superior to humans. This is a myth. They win games because of psychology. The human cannot understand how the computer thinks perfectly. The present format of human versus computers is simply unfair. The computers are allowed to access database whereas we are not. I have no access to any database and I have to remember everything. People argue that computers simply use its memory and the database is in its memory. These are questions that you cant argue but I think it is quite unfair.

For instance, if you were to remove the database, you can have a computer ten times faster than it is today. Ten times faster than Deep Blue, easily. If it couldnt consult its opening book, my result would improve immediately. I think most of the top twenty, thirty players could beat Beep Blue if it wasnt allowed to consult an opening database. Or, even the opening database is restricted to a certain size. What happens is, their opening database is almost 400-500 MBs of information. It has access to all the games that are played but we have to remember all that. Or, if I am allowed to have a computer with me, okay, I cant check my thoughts but I can see what was played at any given time. My result would then go up.

Also, humans versus computers is being held at very unfair circumstances. I am not saying, unfair in terms of handicap. What I say is, these rules were set when computers were so weak and didnt matter. Now it is difficult to change them.

Did you enjoy the games that you played with Fritz and Rebel?

They were okay. As a professional, you have to play many events; you have to accept these challenges. It is satisfying in its own way.

Not as satisfying as playing against a human being?

It is different, thats all.

Fritz was described as a monster machine and you defeated it. But Rebel defeated you. How different were these two machines?

In my opinion, Fritz is far superior to the other one. But the day I played Rebel, I was really in bad shape and we played four games of five minutes and I didnt play Fritz in five minutes. Of course, if you play five minute games, the odds are heavily stacked in favour of computer. It is a hugely misleading impression that the other program beat me.

Before the game against Rebel, the programmer reportedly said, you would beat it comprehensively.

If I played the match again, maybe I could win also. In all the normal games, the games of reasonable time limit, I won against Rebel. They try as hard as possible to publicize the fact that it defeated me and they hope to sell a few programs. There is not much you can do about it. I dont have the time to run ads in the paper all the time. I think, it is just misleading. In the blitz games, computers are already far superior. At least the odds will always go their way.

Fritz was said to be calculating well over 4 lakh positions in a second still you defeated Fritz. How can a human brain think faster than that?

No way. We do about one position a second! I dont know what the number means. These numbers dont mean anything to me. I cant relate to these figures at all. We have a different way of thinking.

After you became the world champion, we have a bunch young boys and girls making their names on the international scene. How do you feel about being an inspiration to them?

I am very happy. I am very proud.

All of them say they started playing chess only because of you.

I am very happy to hear that.

It was reported that you have plans to start a chess academy.

Thats something I cant do right now. But it is definitely in the plans.

Do you plan to start it in India?


This is a very hypothetical question. Still...Do you plan to play chess even when you are in your thirties and forties?

I dont think in those terms. I am just going to play as long as I feel like playing, as long as I enjoy playing.

How do you relax?

Well, it depends. Sometimes not thinking about chess. Sometimes thinking about chess. Sometimes I watch movies. I listen to music. I go for walks. Whatever catches my fancy.

What kind of movies do you watch?

Generally action films. Comedies too. In the last few months, I havent seen many movies. I was training for the World Championship. Maybe I will make up for that now.

What do you generally do when you come to Madras? Of course, journalists like me pester you for interviews. (Earlier, Anand spoke to rediff for the millennium special too.)

I think there is not much time left after rediff! (laughs) I think I spent most of my time in India with rediff! Yes! (laughs) I like spending time with my parents and we play cards together a lot. And, in the evening, I go to the beach for twenty minutes or half an hour.

Dont you get mobbed?

I generally go when it is pretty dark. Generally I like to just sit at home and talk to my parents.

Do you still discuss chess with your mother?

We discuss. I tell her all about the games I played and update her with all the gossip. We talk about how the tournament went and what happened there and things like that. Yes, she can follow the technical stuff if I explain it to her. But we generally discuss other stories. I tell these stories to both my parents. In fact, my father is also interested in these stories.


Vishwanathan Anand

(Source : www.hindustantimes.com)

India's Chess phenomenon, Vishwanathan Anand has been part of the Chess scene since the early 1980s when the game was dominated by the Soviets. Now, however, thanks to technology, Chess has become a level playing turf. Here, Anand talks about how hi-tech has transformed Chess and his own game.

Youve been part of the chess scene since the early 80s. What are the changes you have seen in the game, particularly from the point of it going hi-tech.

If I had to draw a line between the past and the present, Id say 1986 was the time of the transformation. At that time, the Chess world was dominated by one countrythe erstwhile Soviet Union, which had achieved a high degree of professionalism in Chess. They had the infrastructure, they had the trainersChess was considered the cool game to play! The Soviet lead was tremendous. The rest of the world did not have the basic infrastructure and players did not have the ability to train. In 1986 the first Chess database made an appearance. It had around 30-40,000 gamestoday databases boast around four to six million games

Therefore, information availability changed?

The aspect of Chess information changed a lot. I remember, guys used to come to town with two or three suitcases which were full of Chess books. And flipping through those everyday, looking for what was required was a huge task. In 1986, a version of the database came for Atari systems. I too got an Atari around 1989-90. At that time the preparation handicap had started leveling out. Players from all over the world were able to prepare just as well as the Soviets.

While in the early days we had to rely on Chess magazines and books, later we began to depend on diskettes that carried data on Chess games. Companies came up that would procure Chess bulletins, hire ten people to quickly key enter inputs on all the games into a diskette, and then make 10,000 diskettes which would be mailed across the world.

Finally, along came the Internet, and this whole industry vanished in two days. Now we were able to e-mail such information to one another.

How exactly did the Internet revolutionize Chess?

Firstly, as a medium for disseminating information, the Internet is just perfect. Suddenly it doesnt matter where you are or what youre doing, you can follow Chess games live. All the games, all the commentaries, with the grandmasters, everything you need to know is available within two minutes of a game finishing. Furthermore, you can also follow the game in real time. The Internet has also become an important collaboration tool. Even if I am not in the same place as my coach, I can send him an e-mail about an interesting position and check with him what he thinks. Its not to say all this was not possible before. Its just that it is much easier now.

The other thing about technology is that computers are getting stronger and stronger every year, and we can do searches and handle much larger databases. Today, no Chess player carries books around anymore. From the perspective of Chess fans, the Internet is playing the role that TV has played for other sport.

Chess is really designed for the Internet.

Has this resulted a substantial jump in Chess viewership and in the popularization of the game?

Earlier it was impossible to measure Chess viewership. Today, Id say the viewership is huge and quantifiable. Nowadays during Chess tournaments, thousands of Chess chat rooms simply fill up on Chess Web sites. Theres a club called the Internet Chess Club which boasts a subscriber base of over 20,000 Chess fanatics. This I think is fantastic for Chess.

Where is the human element in Chess as we see it today? Hasnt the use of powerful tools such as sophisticated computers and Chess programs diminished the skill levels of players?

No, not at all. In fact it turns out that Chess is a very, very deep game. Nowadays there is talk and every once and a while the fear emerges, is Chess going to die? This happens because people think they know everything there is to know about Chess. And this is an old fear. It came up in the 20s and then we had this whole generation of Soviet players who showed that far from being dead, Chess was very much alive.

With computers people feel that you can leave your system on all night working out and analyzing the moves and finding the right positions, and thats what will kill the game. But in fact it emerges that the game is deeper than what weve thought.

How exactly?

What we have to understand is that computers have a different style from us. And since they follow this mathematical way of checking things, we assume that their conclusions are definitive. However, there are so many things beyond the horizon that even computers cant fathom. And because they cant fathom whats beyond, they come to the wrong conclusions. The computer is just a tool, an enabler. The fact is as far as Chess is concerned, you are never going to eliminate the human element. If you adapt to the technology, then theres room for you as well. I dont think we will get obsoleted in Chess in the near future.

This is the situation today. However, as computers get more powerful, as artificial intelligence gets built into machines, then do you see human players losing ground?

It is conceivable. Ten years ago I would have laughed at the idea that computers are going to get as strong as they have gotten today. It is very difficult to visualize what Moores Law does in ten years and what it does in a Chess sense. Computers are getting incredibly strong and in another ten years they will be stronger still. If computers become incredibly strong in tactics, then it will be very difficult to get the position you want, and to even clinch it. Therefore, I can very easily visualize a time when computers are much stronger than humans.

Where will humans always hold sway?

Certain things we will always do better than computersdeveloping a long term vision, making plans. When Im in top form, I am able to play very well with computers. But humans sometimes get tired, they dont have breakfast, they miss their planes. With computers, if they have their power supplies, theyre there, happily chugging away. It is not entirely fair to compare a human and a computer in a sporting contest. We do have these human versus computer matches, but theyre basically promotional tools. I dont think these are fair sporting contests, though I am not threatened by them. The computer I think will always be a very useful tool.

Have you played a lot against computers? How have you fared?

I have played against most chess programs. I do pretty well especially when Im playing anti-computer Chess (basically Chess thats designed to trip up the computer!). My coach and I do use the computer for training. We use an analysis engine while we are executing moves and trying out possibilities. The computer is always checking out stuff in the background. Its like having a calculator by your side. My coach and I try and develop concepts so to that extent, even our work becomes much more productive when we work with a computer. Variations are like the fabric. Once youve checked them out and they work, you can play the idea. The computer usually does not come up with concepts unless it sees the point. But you can show it the point and let it work things out.

Some moves are impossible for humans to work out. However, with computers, we have been able to penetrate the secrets of these positions. There are positions we are entering that we would never have entered without computers. We would simply not have gone there.