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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Will consider RS offer, if any: Viswanathan Anand

The 64 squares of a checkerboard might mean the world to him, but Viswanathan Anand is a picture of calm even when he’s not battling an opponent.In Kolkata on a whirlwind tour on Thursday, he rubs shoulders with the city’s well-heeled at a welcome dinner hosted by grandmaster Dibyendu Barua and Srenik Sett.There’s no sign of fatigue that touring the length and breadth of the country might have brought along. Amidst all the hullabaloo – the chatter, the flashbulbs, the adulation – his only distraction is son Akhil, who fiddles with his father’s cellphone.Vishy takes him in his lap, very much the doting father. That sets the ball rolling for this interview – where the five-time world champ reveals several facets to him, chess being just one of them.Excerpts:In Bengal for a felicitation ceremony, did you get to hear from CM Mamata Banerjee?I spoke to her as she couldn’t be there in person. It was really nice that she called. Over the phone, she congratulated me and said it was very good that I won. She was very warm.After winning the fifth world championship against Boris Gelfand in a tie-breaker, you had mentioned that it was the most difficult of all games and even said, ‘I simply hung on for dear life’. How ‘difficult’ was difficult?That tends to be your feeling after every match, but I think this one really went full length. By some yardstick, you can also consider it to be the toughest.So, it was more difficult than facing Vladimir Kramnik?The match with Kramnik went so unbelievably well that it ended in eleven games. Here, we went past 12 games. So, there was a difference.During the championship, Garry Kasparov had said that you lacked motivation and were ‘sliding downhill’. Do such jibes affect the game?My usual response is to ignore that sort of thing, but because of who he is, the press kept giving his comments a lot of attention. So it had quite some nuisance value, let’s put it that way.__PAGEBREAK__After the world championship, you met Russian president Vladimir Putin, who referring to the Russian Cultural Centre in Chennai, said, ‘We brought this upon ourselves’….I think it is not something you respond to. But yes, it was a funny remark.Dibyendu Barua suggested you be given the Bharat Ratna. Bhaichung Bhutia too said that Leander Paes, Sachin Tendulkar and you deserve the coveted title…I’m grateful, but beyond that, I can’t say much. These are not the things you campaign for. If somebody is making an effort on my behalf, then I would definitely want to thank them.While on Sachin, the legendary cricketer has taken oath as a Rajya Sabha MP. If an offer comes your way, would you want to follow suit?I’ll think about it then. I’m not trying to anticipate which offers might be made and by doing so, get ahead of myself.Soon after the championship, Spain, where you are currently based, won the Euro. Was it double the celebrations for you?The championship finished well in advance, so I got to watch most of Euro. In fact, we went to Spain around that time and got to watch a lot of matches there, then we came back here and watched the finals in India. The final, unfortunately, was ridiculously easy I thought. I expected it to be a lot more difficult. I think 4-0 was getting too embarrassing for the opponents. But then, all’s well that ends well.Coming to your son Akhil, wouldn’t you want him to grow up to be like his father?You mean playing chess? If he expresses an interest in the game, I would teach him. Beyond that, it’s up to him to decide what he wants to grow up to be.Does he understand that his father is a sporting legend?He’s just too small – 15 months old. This is something beyond his understanding.How much of an influence has wife Aruna been?Aruna does all the travelling with me. She is certainly a part of all the efforts I make.You’ve won the world championship five times. Is there anything left for you to achieve?It’s always tough, in chess and outside chess. There’s lots to achieve as long as you enjoy the game. For me, it’s always the next game and I take it from there.Recently, the sports world was shaken by the rape charges on athlete Pinki Pramanik. Did the news travel to your ears?I heard about the story and the fact that there was some controversy, but couldn’t make much of it. Since I didn’t follow the case closely, it wouldn’t be fair on my part to comment on it.

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