Carlsen, Giri, Kasparov and Kramnik all helped Anand

PeterDoggers
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Besides his team of seconds in Sofia, Viswanathan Anand was helped by some big names before or during his World Championship match against Veselin Topalov. Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik all contributed to Anand's victory in Sofia. The World Champion Monday revealed this in an interview on Playchess.

Right after the end of the World Championship match, Viswanathan Anand revealed his team of seconds. As it turned out, the same names as two years ago in Bonn worked for the Indian: GMs Surya Ganguly, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Peter Heine Nielsen and Radoslaw Wojtaszek. However, this week Anand revealed another, quite interesting list of helpers: Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik.In a remarkable interview with Frederic Friedel and GM Jan Gustafsson, held last Monday on Playchess, Anand first tells about his cooperation with world's number one Magnus Carlsen, who worked with Anand before.

Basically I had him as a sparring partner. We did check some openings together, but the basic idea was that I would get to play a lot with him. Very few people can simulate a real tournament situation like Magnus can. We played a lot of blitz, and I felt good, because I was able to test a lot of areas I was unfamiliar with before. With Magnus you can test almost any position, because he can play almost any position, and play it reasonably well. In that sense his practical skills are very helpful.

Carlsen worked with the retired, 13th World Champion Garry Kasparov last year and in fact Kasparov also offered his help to Anand himself. The Indian said about him:

Garry got in touch and said he wanted to help a little bit. I sent him some details about what we were planning to play… (...) I sent him some questions and he said he would check them against his own notes and let me know if it was okay.

Frederic Friedel, one of the founders of Chessbase and the editor of the English news page, then reveals that he put Anand in touch with Vladimir Kramnik, his opponent in the previous World Championship match. Anand about Kramnik's assistance:

He actually started participating actively. He was also very understanding – he knew I would go to sleep once in a while, so he was happily speaking to the other team members as well, especially Rustam. They started getting in touch with each other and he gave us quite a few heavy-duty ideas, so that was nice. Actually he got in touch consistently over the next few days, and I cannot think of anyone who was more relieved than him when I stopped playing the Elista ending. He said “it’s an awful ending, why do you keep defending it every day?”

The fourth name on Anand's 'remote seconds list' is the Dutch super-talent GM Anish Giri:

Anish also did a couple of days of training with me. It was very similar to what I was doing with Magnus – I got to test a lot of things. There were a lot of areas I had no practical experience with, like the Catalan which I was playing almost the first time, the Elista ending and so on. Anish also sat and went through that.

We recommend reading one of the most remarkable and revealing interviews we've ever seen on Chessbase. Part 1 is here, and part 2 here. In the interview several times "Topalov's computer cluster" is mentioned, and in fact today we received a brief interview with Topalov, from the World Championship organizers, in which this is explained:

1. Grandmaster Topalov, regardless of the outcome, during the match between you and Viswanathan Anand we watched your dominance in the openings when you played with the white pieces. What caused this fact?- During my preparation for the match, me and my manager Silvio Danailov, we decided to approach something non-standard and to seek additional resources to increase the advantage over my opponent.It turned out that there is such a possibility, we found that in Bulgaria is installed and running one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world - Blue Gene / P of IBM. And because the computers and the chess software are a necessary component of the preparation of the modern grandmasters, we decided to use the vast computational power of this machine. The IBM’s Blue Gene/P has 8192 processors and you can imagine for how huge possibilities we are talking about.

IBM Blue Gene P supercomputer | Photo Argonne National Laboratory, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

The problem was the fact that in the world currently there is not any chess software whose source code is written to work with such a multiprocessor platform. However, me and Silvio, we did not gave up and he managed to gather an international team of leading experts who have created a project for a chess program that can use the computing power of this extraordinary supercomputer. And now is the time to express my great thanks to the General Manager of IBM Bulgaria Mr. Alexander Rakov and the IT architect of the company Mr. Yovko Lambrev for the access to the resources of Blue Gene / P they provided to us and that they have made enormous efforts that our idea become a reality. I want to thank to the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Mr. Boyko Borisov too, who allowed us the access to the supercomputer, which as you know is state owned.So ultimately, even though I lost the match, I managed to achieve a dominance over Anand in the openings in all games, in which I played with the white pieces. This advantage was demonstrated very clear especially in the first game, when I won fast and with decisive priority.What’s next for gm Veselin Topalov from now on?- Short break and chess again. In my closest plans, however, it’s included an initiative to increase young people's interest in relation of the high technologies and the artificial intelligence, which will be held under my patronage in cooperation with IBM Bulgaria.I will do it because of my direct experience I know how important are and will be the computers and high technologies for our future and the career development of the young people.In a few days we will announce an essay contest among high school students from Sofia concerning a topic in the field of high technologies. First five best students will form a representative team which will play a mini chess tournament / three games / against the IBM’s supercomputer Blue Gene / P. After each of the games I'm going to comment the game and will give my advices to the young players. IBM Bulgaria will arrange for the finalists meetings with its leading experts to get them acquainted with the vast world of high technologies.If all goes as we imagined it, the initiative will become annual.
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