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A wonderful surprise and amazing feeling: Anand

By The Assam Tribune
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CHENNAI, Dec 29: Relieved after claiming his first rapid world title since 2003, Indian chess ace Viswanathan Anand said he entered the tournament in a �pessimistic� frame of mind but managed to surprise himself and the world with an unbeaten campaign.

The 48-year-old, who had been drawing flak from critics for a string of sub-par performances in the recent past, hit back in style, by winning the World Rapid title in Riyadh yesterday.

�The last two rapid events were nothing short of disastrous. I came here in a pessimistic frame of mind. But it has just been the most wonderful surprise. But I played well,� Anand told PTI after his triumph.

The former world champion remained unbeaten through the tournament and came back strongly to bag the top position on a tie-break after a three-way tie with Russians Vladimir Fedoseev and Ian Nepomniachtchi at 10.5 points from a possible 15.

The Chennai ace then defeated Fedoseev 2-0 in a two-game tie-break to win the trophy.

Anand said he had had a particularly tough year coming into the event in Riyadh.

�...Especially the London (Chess Classic) tournament was a big disappointment. It is not that I had high expectations of London, but still I expected to do well. But to finish in last place was a heavy blow.

Anand said he felt good on the first day of the tournament as he played well and it reminded him of his glory days.

�It was on the first day I felt I was playing well. It was as if time had stood still. I was back in time a few years when I was dominating rapid chess tournaments. That gave me a lot of confidence. On top of that, I beat Peter Leko in a very nice game. I was in a good frame of mind,� he added.

He described the win against Norway�s world champion Magnus Carlsen as the crucial moment in the tournament.

�The crucial moment was the win against Magnus Carlsen. Because he had come back after a defeat against Bu Xiangzhi. He seemed to be in great form, as always.

�He has this amazing ability to win games on demand where he is just able to pull together these long streak (of wins). So at that moment I must admit I felt he was favourite for the final few rounds,� Anand said.

�But, we had a very intense game, an intense Nimzo Indian. It is nice beating a player, who is so dominant in the blitz and rapid rating lists. To beat him was a real accomplishment. Of course, given our history, given the intense matches, there was that extra bit of feeling,� the Indian Grand Master added.

Anand also said that towards the end he got worried that he might not even secure a podium finish but a series of unexpected twists and turns on the final day helped him land the top prize.

�...The first three rounds ended in draws. I felt that I had lost the plot a little bit and in fact I was worried that I might not even be on the podium anymore.

�I mean there were so many unexpected twists and turns. Magnus lost. Nepo (Ian Nepomniachtchi) had won his. A lot happened. But once the tie-break started and I got a big advantage in the tie-break game then I started to feel the wind was behind me,� he said.

�It is so unexpected because I wasn�t even planning to come to this tournament, which was announced late. The most amazing feeling of all is to have the title of world champion again. I am so happy that I can�t describe it in words,� he added. � PTI

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A wonderful surprise and amazing feeling: Anand

CHENNAI, Dec 29: Relieved after claiming his first rapid world title since 2003, Indian chess ace Viswanathan Anand said he entered the tournament in a �pessimistic� frame of mind but managed to surprise himself and the world with an unbeaten campaign.

The 48-year-old, who had been drawing flak from critics for a string of sub-par performances in the recent past, hit back in style, by winning the World Rapid title in Riyadh yesterday.

�The last two rapid events were nothing short of disastrous. I came here in a pessimistic frame of mind. But it has just been the most wonderful surprise. But I played well,� Anand told PTI after his triumph.

The former world champion remained unbeaten through the tournament and came back strongly to bag the top position on a tie-break after a three-way tie with Russians Vladimir Fedoseev and Ian Nepomniachtchi at 10.5 points from a possible 15.

The Chennai ace then defeated Fedoseev 2-0 in a two-game tie-break to win the trophy.

Anand said he had had a particularly tough year coming into the event in Riyadh.

�...Especially the London (Chess Classic) tournament was a big disappointment. It is not that I had high expectations of London, but still I expected to do well. But to finish in last place was a heavy blow.

Anand said he felt good on the first day of the tournament as he played well and it reminded him of his glory days.

�It was on the first day I felt I was playing well. It was as if time had stood still. I was back in time a few years when I was dominating rapid chess tournaments. That gave me a lot of confidence. On top of that, I beat Peter Leko in a very nice game. I was in a good frame of mind,� he added.

He described the win against Norway�s world champion Magnus Carlsen as the crucial moment in the tournament.

�The crucial moment was the win against Magnus Carlsen. Because he had come back after a defeat against Bu Xiangzhi. He seemed to be in great form, as always.

�He has this amazing ability to win games on demand where he is just able to pull together these long streak (of wins). So at that moment I must admit I felt he was favourite for the final few rounds,� Anand said.

�But, we had a very intense game, an intense Nimzo Indian. It is nice beating a player, who is so dominant in the blitz and rapid rating lists. To beat him was a real accomplishment. Of course, given our history, given the intense matches, there was that extra bit of feeling,� the Indian Grand Master added.

Anand also said that towards the end he got worried that he might not even secure a podium finish but a series of unexpected twists and turns on the final day helped him land the top prize.

�...The first three rounds ended in draws. I felt that I had lost the plot a little bit and in fact I was worried that I might not even be on the podium anymore.

�I mean there were so many unexpected twists and turns. Magnus lost. Nepo (Ian Nepomniachtchi) had won his. A lot happened. But once the tie-break started and I got a big advantage in the tie-break game then I started to feel the wind was behind me,� he said.

�It is so unexpected because I wasn�t even planning to come to this tournament, which was announced late. The most amazing feeling of all is to have the title of world champion again. I am so happy that I can�t describe it in words,� he added. � PTI