anathan Anand, Indian sport’s most enduring champion, concedes that chess cannot ‘dominate’ his thoughts like it used to, but at the same time wants to continue playing as long as he enjoys it, saying he does not know what his long term plans are.
“There are no particular plans looking ahead. I will continue to play tournaments. I look at invitations and I am still sort of keen to keep playing. But if you ask me my long terms plans, I just don’t know,” the legendary Anand told IANS in an exclusive interview ahead of his book launch ‘Mind Master’ here.
Anand’s launch event is also part of “Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet”.
Anand, 50, said 2020 will be a lighter year compared to 2019 and he is looking forward to working on his game and spending time with son Akhil.
“For the next year, I will pick a calendar and go and this year looks like it’s going to be a very light year compared to last year. The (Chess) Olympiad will be one thing but far fewer tournaments.
“As this year’s calendar started to take shape, I thought I probably should not fight this. I mean the years I am busy, I am always complaining I don’t have enough rest. The year I have rest I try to make it busier, this doesn’t make sense. I should try and go with the flow,” said Anand who has multiple world titles in rapid and blitz chess.
“I want to sit and prepare and do some work on my chess and this year there will be time. There will also be lot more time to spend at home. That again comes back to the thing that chess simply cannot dominate my thoughts.
“Before Akhil, I would spend a lot of the day thinking about chess and you had time to think. Now you feel slightly guilty. If he wants to play, I should and not explain to him I have work. It feels wrong.
“The bandwidth I have for chess in my head has definitely shrunk. But before you go to a tournament, it’s very unforgiving and you have to be dedicated. So before a tournament I have to do a crash course which is one week of total concentration on chess which came more naturally before. That’s life,” said the king of 64 squares.
India now has many GMs but no one is pushing for the big world titles like Anand. To fuel their cause, Anand said he is ready to ‘mentor’ the lot.
“I will continue to interact with them. I am hoping at some point, if some of them really emerge how we can interact and then see if I could perform the role of a mentor.
“It’s very difficult to insert as many of them have coaches. They have a team. But if I can help and guide that will be nice. It would be nice if in 10 years, we had 2-3 players in the top 10. I could say, well I nudged it along and that’s nice. It’s also nice to continue the tradition of passing on to the next generation.”
Anand did not want to take a name when asked who could be the next chess star from India, but said the likes of Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, who is 14 years old and 15-year old Nihal Sarin are promising.
“There are a lot of youngsters now who really show a lot of talent. So, just the whole crop of players who are U-14 and are Grandmasters. We take it for granted but we need to pause and think. That’s a very promising sign. Prag, Nihal Sarin, Raunak Sadhwani. I was 18 when I became a GM. I was the youngest GM in the world at that time. Now I might be in the top 10. Hard to pick one, they are all very good and good thing is hopefully they push each other,” he signed off.