Five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand says he hasn’t made long-term plans about his career and is simply focused on getting enough rest in 2020 apart from spending time with his son Akhil.
“There are no particular plans looking ahead,” Anand told IANS. “I will continue to play tournaments. I look at invitations and I am still sort of keen to keep playing. But if you ask me my long terms plans, I just don’t know.”
However, unlike 2019, Anand expects the ongoing year to be lighter.
“For the next year, I will pick a calendar and go and this year looks like it’s going to be a very light year compared to last year. The (Chess) Olympiad will be one thing but far fewer tournaments. As this year’s calendar started to take shape, I thought I probably should not fight this. I mean the years I am busy, I am always complaining I don’t have enough rest. The year I have rest I try to make it busier, this doesn’t make sense. I should try and go with the flow.”
So what does Anand plan to do with the free time in 2020? Rest, spend time with his son and of course, work on his game. “I want to sit and prepare and do some work on my chess and this year there will be time. There will also be lot more time to spend at home. That again comes back to the thing that chess simply cannot dominate my thoughts. Before Akhil, I would spend a lot of the day thinking about chess and you had time to think. Now you feel slightly guilty. If he wants to play, I should and not explain to him I have work. It feels wrong,” the 50-year-old said.
One of the reasons why Anand is cutting down on tournaments is due to the fact that mentally, he’s not willing to keep chess at the top of his priorities as was the case before. “The bandwidth I have for chess in my head has definitely shrunk. But before you go to a tournament, it’s very unforgiving and you have to be dedicated. So before a tournament I have to do a crash course which is one week of total concentration on chess which came more naturally before. That’s life,” he said.
Anand says he isn’t averse to the idea of mentoring the next crop of Indian chess players who can be groomed into next world champions. “I will continue to interact with them. I am hoping at some point, if some of them really emerge how we can interact and then see if I could perform the role of a mentor,” he said.
He added, “It’s very difficult to insert as many of them have coaches. They have a team. But if I can help and guide that will be nice. It would be nice if in 10 years, we had 2-3 players in the top 10. I could say, well I nudged it along and that’s nice. It’s also nice to continue the tradition of passing on to the next generation.”
Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin are among the youngsters Anand feels have shown promising signs.
“There are a lot of youngsters now who really show a lot of talent. So, just the whole crop of players who are U-14 and are Grandmasters. We take it for granted but we need to pause and think. That’s a very promising sign. Prag, Nihal Sarin, Raunak Sadhwani. I was 18 when I became a GM. I was the youngest GM in the world at that time. Now I might be in the top 10. Hard to pick one, they are all very good and good thing is hopefully they push each other,” he said.