Viswanathan Anand up for title defence
Chess: Viswanathan Anand up for title defence
His recent results may not have been great but world chess champion Viswanathan Anand is not too perturbed right now as he looks ahead to his title defence against Israel's Boris Gelfand in May.
Anand has had a streak of draws in recent times and somewhat ordinary finishes in his last three tournaments - Bilbao Masters, Tal Memorial and London Classic.
That may be a cause for concern but for now, Anand has his eyes set at the title defence in Moscow and will not play any tournament in the interim. "I started the year well enough but results have not gone my way of late, especially in the seven-hour events. I think I have been neutralised in matches by opponents and have to find out the reason," Anand said in the Capital on Friday.
"But for now the clash with Gelfand is the only thing on my mind. I will not play in any competition till then and will concentrate wholly on training. My preparation has not started yet as I am enjoying some quality time with my new-born son. I think two or three months will be enough time."
Anand and Gelfand have had almost parallel careers and have faced off several times over a period of more than two decades. "There is a certain level of familiarity but we don't know each other's games inside out. All players evolve over time and I am sure Gelfand will come with something new in May," the fourtime world champion said.
Anand faced Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov in his last two title matches and predicts a different challenge in May 2012. "Gelfand is a player with a classical upbringing who comes with a certain gameplan. His style is closer to Kramnik than Topalov. But it is a 12-game title match and I have to anticipate all that Gelfand can throw at me."
There was a chance that the title match could be held in Anand's home city Chennai but the match eventually went to Moscow. "The Tamil Nadu government and All India Chess Federation had presented an excellent bid, and the manner in which the match went to Moscow was very dramatic.
"It would have been fun to defend the title at home and I would have enjoyed playing in front of my relatives and schoolmates," he said.
Later, he was cagey when asked about the recent amendment in rules which allowed sportspersons to be conferred India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.
"I would say it is the right move, but I will be biased. I have said that I will not lobby for the award. In fact, I did not express my opinion on whether the rule should be changed," Anand added.