Former world chess champion Vladimir Kramnik said that Indian icon Viswanathan Anand was extremely good for a 50-year-old and he should continue playing as long as he is enjoying the game.
The 44-year-old Kramnik was the undisputed world champion from 2006 to 2007, when Anand, his contemporary, took the world title from him in 2008.
“Maybe he [Anand] is past his prime because he set the bar so high...maybe he is not as good as he was in the past. But the thing is that he is extremely good at his age,” the Russian Grandmaster said after the inauguration of a camp in Chennai for 14 young Indian players on Tuesday evening.
“To be a top-level player at such an age in this era is itself an achievement. I am not sure if the next generation will manage it. As long as he is enjoying the game, he should continue. I hope to see him for some more years,” he added.
Anand turned 50 last year and has been struggling to regain top form for a while now.
Asked what were the signs for a player to consider quitting, Kramnik said it always boils down to results.
“In most cases, it is when you start to lose every single game. When you feel you are not as good as before, your level of play may dip. There are other factors as well. I feel it is up to the individual to decide.”
“Personally, I retired because I wanted to do something other than competitive chess. But I perfectly understand and appreciate people who are in the game for a long period of time.
“After 40, it becomes difficult to compete with young players but it is not as dramatic as in physical sports,” he added.
Veteran Boris Gelfand, a former world championship finalist, who will join Kramnik in training the young Indian players, said as long as Anand enjoys playing the game, he should continue.
“When he [Anand] lost the World Championship to Magnus Carlsen in 2013, people pushed him to retire. That was total nonsense. As long as he enjoys and plays at an incredibly good level, we will have to thank him for continuing,” he said.
Kramnik said it was good that the young players here for the camp had become Grand Masters at a young age.
“I want them to aim very high...I want to see them in the top 10 in the world in the matter of a few years..,” he said.
The two said India had a lot of talent in chess.
“They have the potential to get to the top and a great future. I don’t think there is any other city [in India] apart from Chennai where there is such a good level of chess concentration.
“To add to it, there has not been a generation like this in the past. There are so many good players in India at this point of time,” Gelfand said.
The players who would be trained at the 10-day camp organised by Microsense, a technology company, are R Praggnanandhaa, D Gukesh, Raunak Sadhwani, Prithu Gupta, P Iniyan and Arjun Erigaisi (all Grandmasters), Leon Mendonca, Sreeshwan Maralakshikari, Aditya Mittal, Arjun Kalyan, Bharat Subramaniyam and Raahil Mullick (all International Masters); Rakshitta Ravi and Vaishali (Women International Masters).
Earlier, in August last year, six players – Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh, Iniyan, Mendonca, Sadhwani and Erigasi – had attended a camp conducted by Kramnik in France.