Viswanathan Anand can still beat anyone, says Magnus Carlsen
Viswanathan Anand is currently playing at FIDE chess.com Grand Swiss Isle of Man, which is his final path to the Candidates 2020. While his path to the Candidates seem difficult, the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen believes that the Madras Tiger, Vishy Anand can still beat anyone. In this interview by Times of India's Prasad Ramasubramanian, Carlsen talks about his year so far, his most difficult among the current lot, if he sees Anand becoming a Challenger for the World title again, his acquisition of Chessable, his support towards his favorite team in Real Madrid and more. Photo: Amruta Mokal
Carlsen on The Madras Tiger
World champion Magnus Carlsen couldn't have asked for a better year than the one currently in progress. He started off by winning the Tata Steel chess tournament at Wijk aan Zee.
The 28-year-old then bossed over all his opponents, winning seven tournaments in a row this year. And he is not done yet. Former world champion Viswanathan Anand said earlier this year that Carlsen had left the chess world in a state of shock.
"There are many who are calling him the strongest in the history and his results this year are a proof of that. It is difficult to find words to describe his (Carlsen) performance this year. The chess world is in a bit of shock as the rest of the players are struggling to deal with this phenomenon," Anand had said.
In an interaction with TOI, Carlsen revealed how he has performed closer to his potential this season. The Norwegian also spoke about his admiration for Anand, the toughest opponents in the current lot and more. Excerpts:
For you personally, 2019 has been a golden year where you have won practically everything. Is this the best you have played in a long time?
I'm always trying to focus on my next event rather than rest on laurels. That said, it has been a great year, and it has been especially fulfilling to have performed closer to my potential than in recent years.
Among the current lot, who is your most difficult opponent and why?
Generally, the FIDE rating is a good measure of a player's strength, and I do think that (Fabiano) Caruana and recently Ding (Liren) too have been my most difficult opponents. They are both well prepared and extremely resourceful.
Was the last World title - against Caruana - the toughest you have had to work to retain the crown?
Playing a World Championship match is a very complex experience and making comparisons between matches is not a science. In terms of just quality of play, I think Caruana was the toughest. He was extremely well prepared and most of our games were at a very high level. There were moments of crisis in other matches that for a short period was a tougher experience. Against Karjakin, I was behind with three games to go and against Anand in Chennai - I was under immense pressure early in the match.
In the current lot, only Anand has been world champion. Do you see him challenging you again?
I have the utmost respect for Vishy and I enjoy playing against him. He may be a veteran but he is still performing at the top of his game, and when you do that, you can beat anyone and win anything.
Where would you rate Anand among the greats of the game?
He has won many World Championship matches and been part of the elite for 30 years. You cannot question that he will be remembered as one of the greats of the game. He has been instrumental in the development of chess in India with so many strong players coming through that will dominate chess in the future. When he retires, that will be his legacy.
You have always been a fan of Real Madrid. How do you see the Spanish side performing the current season?
Yes, I've been a fan of Real since I was a child and this is something I share with Vishy. In fact, Real invite me to the Bernabeu after our World championship match in 2013. They are top of the league so far this season, and I hope they can win it and also do well in Europe.
What was the motive behind buying chess platform chessable.com in September this year?
The reason for getting involved with Chessable was simple: we really liked it. At Play Magnus, we were impressed with Chessable's idea. We could see how chess learners were enjoying this innovative way of learning aspects of the game and we could see the potential. I am told the team is working on lots of exciting new changes to make Chessable bigger and better, but I'm not able to reveal them now!
Your company Play Magnus AS had in March this year merged with online chess platform chess24.com. How are the two moves inter-related?
Yes, this was a big move for us. I must say I keep out of the business side of this because I concentrate on playing, but we have a mission to help people enjoy chess and to teach them to play better chess. Both chess24 and Chessable share that vision and want to move forward with it. As you know, Chess24 is a great site, and you have already seen me get a lot more involved with it commenting and playing Banter Blitz.
The article was originally published in Times of India site and it has been republished here with kind permission.
About the Author
Prasad Ramasubramanian has been a journalist for over 14 years. He currently works with the Times of India, Chennai bureau.