Anand: Chess has become more dynamic
– This morning we opened the biggest Hamburg newspaper to see a full page on Vishy Anand, talking about computers and how they have changed his and the world’s approach to the game. Yes, and also about quitting chess at 41 (spoiler: he is not considering it). Yesterday the Telegraph had an interview with Magnus Carlsen. All because of the London Chess Classic that begins next Wednesday.


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More information…

Currently, Anand Viswanathan is preparing for the London
Chess Classic
, where he will take on Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik.
Sports reporter Rainer Grünberg [who is himself a former Bundesliga player]
visited Anand in In his training camp in Bad Soden, Germany. Rainer was also
acting as a courier for the Hamburg software house ChessBase. He brought with
him a DVD with 4.5 million games [a pre-production version of Mega Database
2011]. These games can theoretically be downloaded on the Internet, “but
to be on the safe side” Anand prefers to use ChessBase data. He belongs
to the first generation that grew up with computers.

Excerpts from the interview

On the use of a chessboard: Of course I have a chessboard.
Some of the younger players say they don’t, but that is pure propaganda. I always
consider on a board whether I really like the positions that I want to play,
if I really understand everything that I have analyzed with the computer. You
see things better in three dimensions. But it is true that I use the board far
less than I used to. I work mainly with the computer.

How computers have changed chess: With today’s databases everybody
has a wealth of information available. Previously this only applied to a minority,
players with the appropriate networks, for instance in the Soviet Union. This
development has led to a democratic broadening of knowledge and the opportunity
to access ideas far more quickly. This applies to most other areas of life as
well. If we want to know something, we google it. Today, in order to become
a good chess player, it is not so important whether you were born in Russia
or Europe, you can do it anywhere in the world if you have the appropriate talent.
In addition, chess playing computers have become so strong that you can analyze
all phases of the game more extensively, deeper and more accurately. All these
factors have changed the game. Chess has become more dynamic, piece play has
become more effective. The ability to defend oneself in bad positions or against
king attacks has increased dramatically. General principles are moving more
and more into the background, calculating move sequences is more important.

How they have changed his thinking: have become more critical
in my decisions, and don’t allow myself to be guided by a few general strategies.
I look for special moves, for exceptions to the generally accepted principles.
The exceptions of course have their own logic, but we have not been able to
understand it so far. With growing understanding we are often confronted with
moves whe would have previously rejected, out of general considerations. This
is the merit of the computer – they point to many new and unusual ideas.
People are afraid to think out of the ordinary, computer to force you to do
so. But: we must be the pilot, the computer must not be allowed into the cockpit.

Whether the 41-year-old thinks about quitting? I will not
go on playing tournaments until the age of 60 or 70, but I will not suddenly
stop playing, like Garry Kasparov did five years ago. It will be a longer process.
Right now I feel physically and mentally fresh enough to compete at the highest
level, at least for a couple of more years.

Does he understand the decision of Magnus Carlsen to drop out of the
current World Cup cycle?
No, because unlike the past ten or fifteen
years, this time almost all the key points are firmly in place. It’s been a
long time since had so much clarity in the fight for the World Championship.

Meanwhile we found a substantial piece about Magnus Carlsen in the London Telegraph,
which thankfully summarizes the interview conducted by Max Davidson for us.

In short

Herbal tea or stiff drink? Definitely not a stiff drink when
I am playing. And I am not a great one for herbal tea either. I would be more
likely to have a fruit juice.

Do you believe in the spirit world? It is not something to
which I have given a lot of thought.

Who is your inspiration? Originally, it was my father who
gave me my passion for chess. Now that I study classic matches, I learn from
all the great players of the past.

What was the last film you saw? The latest Harry Potter.

What was the last piece of music you bought? I usually listen
to music on the internet, sites like Spotify, rather than buying CDs. I listen
to quite a lot of rap.

How do you feel on a typical Friday evening? And Monday morning?
If I am in a big tournament, I will be keyed up for that. By Monday, I will
be exhausted and can sleep in for hours.

Beach or snow? Either, according to season.

How would you describe yourself to an alien from another planet?
An enthusiast for a game that is civilised and challenging. Definitely not as
a genius or freak of nature.

Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen lead the field for London Classic

Last year’s London Classic at Olympia attracted large audiences, so its 2010
version on 8-15 December, with the reigning world champion Vishy Anand now in
the field, will be of great interest. Its added spice is the rivalry at the
top of the world rankings between Anand, Norway’s 20-year-old Magnus Carlsen,
and Russia’s ex-champion and current world No 4, Vlad Kramnik. Spectators (£10
daily, details
) can watch the play live, attend grandmaster commentaries, compete
in side events, or relax with friendly games.

The global chess body, FIDE, still hopes to persuade Carlsen to rescind his
withdrawal from the May 2011 candidates matches and has announced a new date
of 22 December for contract signing. How he performs in London, just a week
before the contract deadline, may affect the talks and whether he can take the
bold route of a direct title challenge to Anand.

It is odds on that one of the big three will win the eight-GM Classic but England’s
top quartet will be tough to defeat. The most likely to produce a surprise is
Hikaru Nakamura. The US No 1 used to be reckoned a lightweight at this level
who played too much speed chess and risky openings. The 23-year-old has matured
fast, now ranks in the world top 10, and rarely loses. He is ambitious and London
will be his opportunity.

England’s youngest GM David Howell, 20, is the lowest ranked entrant at the
Classic and could also make a quantum jump. He won the British Rapidplay with
10.5/11 and impressed with a recent Bundesliga win. White’s 17 dxc5! is not
decisive but the error 19…Be6? (Bb7) enabled White to paralyse the Q-side
and end the game with checkmate.

London Chess Classic 2010 with Anand and Carlsen
12.06.2010 – The 2009 tournament was a highlight
of the chess year – and returned London to its former status as a great
world centre of chess. The sponsors vowed to continue with the Chess Classic,
and for this year’s edition – from December 8 to 15 – they have secured
the participation of the World Champion Vishy Anand plus the world number
one Magnus Carlsen. This is an event you
should not miss.

London Chess Classic 2010 – a reminder
24.09.2010 – After the success of this newly
organised tournament last year, the second edition of the Chess Classic
promises to be an even greater event. It will be staged in London from
December 8 to 15, 2010 and includes the current World Champion (Anand),
his predecessor (Kramnik) and his possible successor (Carlsen), plus a
bevy of high-class players. Make your plans now – here
are the details.