I'm not sure where the original interview was, but Jaideep Unudurti, our essential source for all things Viswanathan Anand, has very kindly supplied us with the full text of his interview with the former world champion. This took place shortly after the end of the London Chess Classic, which Anand won on tiebreaks thanks to his last-round with the black pieces against Michael Adams.
Q: Let’s go back to the dramatic last round. You got into the Berlin versus Adams who’d worked as Carlsen’s second. Were you worried about falling into ‘prep’?
I assumed if they had found something, Carlsen would have actually used it in the match. So there was some consolation that in fact they didn’t find anything very effective.
We had also checked it very well and in the end, it comes down to ‘do you trust your own analysis or do you get scared by ghosts?’
And the other thing I wanted to do was to avoid indecision at the last stage so I took a very quick call to just play this and stuck with it.
Q: Your head-to-head against Adams is in your favour, but he’s beaten you the last two times?
Yeah exactly, I used to have a very very good score against him. And the last two games I lost was very similar to how he lost to me yesterday. We had a normal game and suddenly it turned around violently. So I was happy to improve that record a little bit. But its not something I thought about a lot. I just wanted to play the game yesterday that was it. I just wanted to end the year on a good note.
Q: You’ve been dropping quite a few crucial last round games in tournaments…
The pattern is getting alarming. Having said that there is no point thinking about it. Then you start obsessing. I have lost quite a few last round games in the last two years.
And infact even the rapid game with Nakamura, I thought was really silly. Because there isn’t much reason to play on so I should have just taken his draw offer. I’m happy this one went differently.
Q: Wasn’t it surprising that 5 of 6 players could win the tournament the last round?
No it isn’t. That is the thing with this football scoring, in that it very often produces situations like that. My hunch is that people forget after a tournament how many people had chances before the last round or the last two rounds. I think in most tournaments this system has the advantage that you keep half the field or more than half the field in contention. I mean it is almost impossible for half the field not to be in contention. Unless one guy wins four games or something and is beyond reach.
Q: Were you tracking what was happening in Giri-Kramnik and Nakamura?
I don’t like to sit and depend on other people. So after I finished my game, I just wanted to come back to the hotel. I mean by winning my game I had a satisfactory finish to the year and I was happy with that but by this point I understood that both Giri would draw and Nakamura wouldn’t win. If Kramnik had won he would have gone ahead, and if Nakamura had won he would have gone ahead. All these results could have passed me but by the time I’d finished I knew that the most likely result was that I would win on tie-break.
Q: After the blitz you had 3 blacks in a 5-round event. What were your expectations?
Honestly I think in 5 games its better not to look for any patterns. Over longer tournaments at least some trends will become clear but 5 games it hardly matters. It is so short that the main thing is to get on with the job at hand. So I didn’t think about it too much. I was fine with the colours. To be honest I didn’t really mind an extra white or an extra black.
Q: Nakamura essayed the Evans Gambit; were you taken aback?
I looked at it quite recently in fact and that was quite useful. Like with many openings, taking a fresh look with a new computer produces completely new results so it was good I’d done that.
Q: Are we going to see a lot more of such approaches, thanks to the Berlin?
It cuts both ways. There seems to be an increase in the number of Berlin endgames and in the sidelines. I think the Berlin is just becoming more popular (laughs).
Q: Next year for the first time in 8 years you will not be either playing a world championship or preparing for it. What are your thoughts?
I think the main thing is that your focus can shift to tournaments. It is not like that you can stop working. The point is that instead of thinking of one person you can think of everybody in chess. That obviously means more things to work on; it is a chance to do things very differently and I’m going to try and make use of that.
Q: What are your plans and goals for 2015?
I’m going to play in Baden and then in Zurich so that’s as far as my plans have gone now. And then later on I’ll see what else I can play, I mean it depends on the invitations I get.
Just enjoy chess. It is a great feeling to have good results and play well and leave the tournament with some satisfaction.
Q: Recently we saw top players taking part in the Qatar Open. Would you ever play in an Open tournament?
Could be very interesting and I heard very good reviews about it. Definitely if something like that comes along, I would take a close look at it.