Most of this Frontline interview with world champion Viswanathan Anand repeats familiar ground, but this interchange offers something new:
Your take on Kasparov's remarks?
Of course, some people, like Kasparov, really wanted me to lose. He was even clearly trying to cause it. He was trying to come there, see if he could get under my skin and somehow negatively impact my play. For me, it was especially important not to give him that satisfaction.
I found Kasparov's timing extremely surprising. He came during the sixth round. He was so clearly trying to stir something up about my play. I felt his sympathies were obvious.
It's an interesting reaction from Anand to remarks from Garry Kasparov that were implicitly complimentary: it's because of Anand's usual high level that Kasparov found Anand's play in the first half of the match to (ostensibly) reveal a lack of motivation and subpar play. Maybe the current champion simply used Kasparov's remarks as "bulletin board" material, the same way a strong, widely praised sports team might take an article claiming their next opponent is a slight favorite and then cultivate a defiant attitude of us against the world on the grounds that "no one believed in us". It's a bit silly, but maybe it works.
Still, in this case I think Anand would be better served taking the high road. In the big picture, Kasparov has done more for chess than Anand has, but Anand has displayed as much resilience over the long haul as his great predecessor and infinitely more class. (Kasparov's fighting spirit was incredible in the first half of his career, but went AWOL in the Deeper Blue, Kramnik and X3D matches. Anand's trajectory was the opposite: he looked psychologically vulnerable against Kamsky in their first Candidates' match, against Kasparov in 1995 once things started going wrong and against Karpov in Lausanne, but in many events since then, notably his world championship matches against Topalov and Gelfand, he has shown a great deal of toughness.)
Anand should just laugh Kasparov off in such a way as to suggest that Kasparov was a really great player whose relevance - in the distant past - was tremendous. If he wants to throw in a dig, he could note that a player who quit chess because he didn't have a rematch handed to him on a silver platter shouldn't question the motivation levels of those who are still in the ring slugging it out. (Yes, Anand is too classy to say that, but is it a fair point?)
HT: Brian Karen