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India in London: Anand cautious,but optimistic

World Champion Viswanathan Anand said he was 'cautiously optimistic' about India’s chances at the Olympics beginning in London.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: September 3, 2014 1:34:34 pm

World Champion Viswanathan Anand said he was “cautiously optimistic” about India’s chances at the Olympics beginning in London next Friday. India,Anand said,was in the reckoning in more disciplines than before,but was not an outright favourite in any.

“We tend to hype our contingent a lot. This time I am cautiously optimistic about our medal chances. We have a lot of chips on the table this time around and there is a lot of hope in disciplines like archery,shooting,athletics,wrestling and boxing. But we are not the odds on favourites in any of these,” Anand said in the course of a free-wheeling discussion at the Express Adda in Delhi on Thursday.

Anand,who fielded questions from a select audience drawn from diverse walks of life,also touched upon what was one of his most taxing World Championship matches,against Israeli Boris Gelfand in Moscow this May.

After the first six games of the match ended in draws and he lost the seventh game,he felt he had blown his title defence,Anand said.

“That night after the loss in game seven was one of my worst ever. I felt like an ex-champion after the loss,and I could barely sleep. I kept tossing and turning and after having slept for just a couple of hours,had an early breakfast and worked a bit. Then I felt terribly tired and slept for a couple of hours again and staggered to the match,” he said.

He won the next game,and the match was eventually settled by the rapid tie-break,which Anand managed to nick.

Speaking about the evolution of computers in the field of chess,Anand said the machines now had abilities that made it impossible for human beings to compete against them — and joked that the chess world had long accepted this fact.

“We grew up believing that a computer could not beat a human. There was the initial problem that the limit of what the computer could do was set by the limitation of the programmer,who may not even have been a player himself.

“But they got over the problem and then computers started picking up a win here and there in the early 90s. In the Garry Kasparov-Deep Blue match (in 1997),the computer won decisively. Computers have gotten so much better and we (the chess fraternity) mourned it,accepted it and got over it a long time back,” Anand said.

Asked if he had a favourite piece on the chess board,Anand said the knight would come closest,but added that such considerations did not influence players when choosing between moves.

“It is not that players have a preferred piece and play a game thinking they will move it more often. You could say there are groups of players who prefer bishops,or a pair of bishops because together,they can cover all the squares on the board. Some prefer a bishop and knight combination and you can say I belong to the latter category. In many of the games against Gelfand,he had a bishop pair and I had a knight and a bishop. A lot of people say the knight is my favourite piece.”

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