Kasparov a little ahead of Fisher: Anand


Madrid : Garry Kasparov may have been the biggest hurdle in his way to becoming to the world champion, but Viswanathan Anand continues to hold the Russian in high regard even after his retirement.

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The Indian chess maestro, who lost the 1995 World Championships match to the Russian at the World Trade Centre in New York in 1995, still considers the chess player-turned politician Kasparov “a little ahead of Bobby Fischer”.

He also revealed in an interview to the Spanish news agency EFE that he has a “great ability to concentrate” and nothing disturbs him during a match. And as for his personal idiosyncrasies, he said he had none, though he might use the same pen he used during a great win or a special shirt chosen by his wife, Aruna.

Asked if Fischer was the greatest ever, Anand said: “He was a genius and his game, along with having great beauty, was very simple to understand; he did everything easily. He and Kasparov were the greatest in history, but I judge Kasparov as a little ahead. Fischer was a phenomenon from 1970 to 1972 while Kasparov was on top for many years.” Fischer died recently in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Anand was also asked if he was motivated to take up chess following the historic Fischer-Spassky encounter in Reykjavik in 1972. Anand replied, “I was three years old then and I wasn’t precocious enough to follow it, but later, once my mother (Susila Viswanathan) taught me to play when I was six, I studied those games and Fischer the man as well. I consider him a genius who confronted a gigantic country like the Soviet Union on his own.”

Anand is also scheduled to play Vladimir Kramnik in a World Championship match in Bonn in October. Queried on the match, he said, “In October he (Kramnik) will be a powerful rival because he’s very strong in matches. He knows how to prepare very well to come up with ideas at home. I’ll also be studying in order to surprise him with a few novelties.”

As for his preparations, Anand revealed, “Along with theoretical study, which I usually do in the afternoons, I spend two hours in the gym in the morning. One day I do resistance exercises and the next day strength exercises. Sometimes I ride a bicycle. As a fan I like soccer — I’m a Real Madrid supporter — car racing, and tennis.”

Anand also dispelled the notion that one needs to be a little ‘crazy’ to be a great chess champion. “No. That’s a myth. What happens is that the media focuses a lot on the exceptions, but the great majority of players are normal people,” he said.

When prodded further by pointing out that Fischer, Korchnoi and others used to always bring up scandals about trifles like the chair, the lights, and the nearness of the audience and whether he had such focal points, he said he had none.

“I don’t think so. If anything, I might use the same pen that I used when I won a great victory, or wear a special shirt that Aruna puts out for me, but I couldn’t care less about the chairs, the table, the board, and the pieces. I have a great ability to concentrate and nothing disturbs me,” concluded Anand.

Anand, who considers Mexico as his favourite venue – he has won all three times he has played here, including the World Championship – is currently defending his title in the Morelia-Linares tournament. The event is held in two parts. The first is in Mexico from Feb 15 to 23, while the second stage will be in Linares from Feb 28 to March 7.