Viswanathan Anand is not a man of many words, but in a freewheeling interview with Chess.com, the Indian great spoke about his celebrity status, how the constant question of retirement drives him crazy and how he stays focused despite all that.
Talking to Luis Fernández Siles from Spain, where he lived for almost 15 years, Anand was forthcoming about his storied career and how much he has learned from the game.
Unlike many athletes, Anand doesn’t mind being recognised on the streets of his country and stopped by fans. “Well, I am frequently recognized, but it doesn’t cause me any trouble, it doesn’t bother me or anything, I even think it’s flattering. It’s nice, I can’t say I don’t like it. If people know you and they appreciate what you do, it’s a good thing,” he said.
Talking about questions over his retirement, Anand, who recently finished joint-second in Isle of Man Championship, was bit more vociferous. Clarifying that his comment after a poor run was blown up, he said the contestant hounding was ridiculous.
“I’ve been getting that question for the last three or four years, and well, the first time they ask it’s legitimate, it’s a perfectly normal question, and I answered it. I was at a low moment then and I said something like ‘I don’t know... I have to think about it...’ Basically, I didn’t firmly reject it.
“But afterwards I started getting that question a thousand times, they haven’t read my answer to that question in the previous interview... And that starts bothering me and there’s a point in which it doesn’t even make sense to answer because the next question will be, again, ‘When will you retire?’, and it drives you crazy... And if they don’t listen to your answer that means it’s not a question, but rather they want to write their article and it’s an easy topic so they include it... something like that.
“And this time, at the World Cup, it clearly wasn’t my best result, but it’s not a reason to retire either. Also, I don’t see how it has anything to do with that... If I like playing, then I’ll play. What do my results have to do with my wish to play? So yes, it’s quite ridiculous,” the 47-year-old told Chess.com.
However, he insisted that there was no dip in motivation to play. “I try to evolve and learn from other people’s work methods, and I always try to learn new things. The brain switches off if it becomes too bored, that is the problem. You must always look for new things to learn,” the chess great said.
Talking about his personal favourite game from his glittering career, he picked a game from 2013. “The game that always comes to mind is a Slav I played against Aronian at Tata Steel in Wijk aan Zee in 2013. I have other good games but, if I had to choose one, it would be that one,” Anand was quoted as saying.
Read the full interview here