Battle of the World Champions in Mainz


Viswanathan Anand
India, born 11 December 1969
Elo 2794, No. 3 in world rating list

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  Mainz Chess Classic: Viswanathan Anand


Viswanathan Anand is regarded as the best rapid chess player world-wide due to his successes at the Chess Classic. In 1997, 1998 and 2000, the 'fast breeder' from India won the most prestigious competition with shorter time limits. Last year the 'Tiger of Madras' outclassed the entire world elite and, with an edge of 1.5 and more points, pushed Kasparov, Kramnik & Co. to the other places in the Giants. After going through a bad patch, this impressive tournament win had the effect of a liberating strike for the 31 year old. From now on he has rushed from one success to the other in competitions of the world chess association FIDE: with a win in the world blitz championship, the world cup and the FIDE world championship, Anand completed the 'grand slam'. In the final of the knockout FIDE world championship in Teheran, the new world champion was in total command and beat Alexei Shirov (Spain) with an early 3.5:0.5 win in what was planned as a six game match. The Indian national hero is the first Asian world champion; he is also - after Bobby Fischer (1972) - only the second world champion since World War II not to originate from the Soviet Union or Russia. India is the home of an early version of the royal game, Chatarunga. In the native land of chess Anand caused a wave of enthusiasm and contributed to the fact that chess is now one the three most popular sports in a population of one billion. As regular visitor to the Chess Classic the world champion shares responsibility for the programme of the 'Chess Tigers'. This club aims to foster young talents from the Rhine-Main region to world class level in order to provoke a similar boom to that on the subcontinent. In games with reduced time limit (rapid, blindfold and blitz chess) the FIDE world champion is ahead of his rival with a plus of 8:5 wins (26 draws). A look at all disciplines of chess reveals that Anand leads by 36.5:34.5 points.

I do not need to get involved in discussions

FIDE world champion Viswanathan Anand avoids ideological confrontation

With his victory at the Chess Classic 2000 Viswanathan Anand started an impressive run of successes: after the world cup it culminated in the world championship organised by FIDE, the world chess association. The Indian from Chennai, formerly Madras, thereby triggered off a chess boom in the sub-continent. At the Chess Classic 2001 the 31 year old will compete against Vladimir Kramnik in the Rheingoldhalle in Mainz in the 'battle of the world champions' (between 26 June and 1 July daily at 5.30 p.m., except Sunday at 3 p.m. and a free day on Thursday). In October 2000, the Russian managed to beat Braingames world champion Gary Kasparov in a crushing manner. Prior to the prestigious ten games rapid chess match, sponsored by LRP, Anand gave a very monosyllabic interview to Hartmut Metz. It looks like he currently prefers to speak via his games rather than with words.

Metz: What surprised you most when you read the open letter by Anatoly Karpov, Gary Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik? Certain items, or the fact that these three grandmasters are now collaborating?

Viswanathan Anand: It is quite amusing to see three people with opposing ideologies coming together.

Metz: The three claimed that they are very concerned about FIDE policy changes regarding official time controls, how FIDE deals with the history of the world championships, and open hostility toward organisers of historical chess events. What's your opinion on the issue?

Anand: If people want to complain the list is endless. The new time controls are interesting but it would be better if they are tested before being applied.

Metz: In this open letter they use numbers 12, 13 and 14 to identify the different world champions. Which numbers would you use for them, for Chalifman and for yourself?

Anand: I am the current world champion, Chalifman was the previous world champion.

Metz: This means you don't see any chance of a 'reunification' match against Kramnik because there is no other world champion?

Anand: Reunification won't solve anything.

Metz: Most of the time your contacts to Kasparov have seemed to be difficult. Did your relationship with Kramnik change after he claimed the title? I remember that the two of you were always on very good terms during the Chess Classic, or example in 1998 when you joked with one another during the final, which you finally won 4:3.

Anand: We are both professional chess players .

Metz: Did you ever discuss with Kramnik who is the 'real' world champion? Or is there no point in arguing because you both have different opinions on the topic?

Anand: I think it is quite silly to discuss this at all.

Metz: In the world rankings you are very close to each other. Kramnik is ahead with 2797 Elo and you are on 2794. Is it your next aim to break through the magical 2800 limit?

Anand: In the first place I intend to enjoy the game; reaching 2800 as well would be nice.

Metz: Despite this bare margin of three Elo points you are regarded as the favourite in the LRP match in Mainz. You have always beaten Kramnik at the Chess Classic, especially last year you showed great performance in the Giants. Which result would you predict for this year?

Anand: I play my game and enjoy it. My job is to play, not to forecast results.

Metz: In the past you were irritated by answering questions in the never ending tale of matches against Kasparov and who might be or is the 'real' world champion. Now you are the world champion. Has anything changed or do you still hate to discuss this?

Anand: I am the world champion. I do not need to discuss anything with anybody.