The chess legend spoke on the second episode of The Finish Line.
Grandmaster and former world champion Viswanathan Anand spoke at length about his rivalry with Vladimir Kramnik and delved into how both of them are on identical scores even after a whopping 150 games.
His rivalry with the Russian star is one of the most revered rivalries in the history of modern-day sports and it can fall under the same category as that of Ronaldo-Messi, Federer-Nadal, Prost- Senna to name a few.
When quizzed about his rivalry with Vladimir and what makes it so special and memorable, Viswanathan Anand commented, “Well we joined the top of the world chess roughly at the same time, I joined two years ahead of him. At that point, I did not remember it yet, but later on, he told me that we had met three years ago.”
“I played him once in 1989 which kind of slipped my mind but I met him again in 1992 and that year was his breakthrough moment. Out of the 20 odd years, we have swapped the number 2-3 position. We were always very close to each other in terms of points, so close that when he retired our scores were absolutely identical even after more than 150 games.”
Viswanathan Anand was a 1E4 player and Vladimir had always been a 1D4 player but the Indian legend decided to go with 1D4 in the big match for the world title.
He remarked, “Well it was a big risk to take for sure in such a scenario, I looked at my recent games with him where I found that I was finding it very difficult to land the punch in E4. I did not want to get to a position where we were playing some sort of boring attrition chess, then I suddenly thought why not play with D4 as I have dabbled with it even though I am not very good at it.”
“It wasn’t a logical decision, If I would have written down pros and cons after a while I would have convinced myself to not pursue it. For someone who might not understand, in exaggerated words, it is the equivalent of Federer switching to his left hand against Nadal in a grand slam.”
As a grandmaster, Viswanathan Anand goes through a wide array of emotions which comprises of highs and lows, mentally and emotionally. He revealed certain tricks that he needed to take care of before the final showdown against Vladimir.
Anand recalled, “Well for the world championship the schedule is fairly luxurious, but that gives you some sort of a starting point. We used to play one white one black, then there is a rest day and it goes on. The idea is to take two games at a time.”
“The real difficult moment came after game 10 because after that he finally managed to pinpoint one weakness. It was all about making some logical improvisations, but we had done such good work and we had two white pieces. So I managed to neutralize him fairly early. In fact, the 11th game did not last very long,” he concluded.