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Vishy Anand plans next moves

A few weeks ago, just before the start of the match, I was asked by the editors of “The Indian Express” to write an article about the last day of Anand’s preparations before the match started from an insiders point of view.  You can read about that article called “Computers, cashews, chocolats. Coldplay” here. On Friday, just after the 10th and last game, the editors wanted another article, this one about “The Day After”. The following piece was published on the front page of the newspaper on Sunday, 23 November.

It is not always fun to be at a press conference

Defeated, drained but Viswanathan Anand plans next moves

For those of us in Team Vishy, it was difficult to find words of comfort the morning after Magnus Carlsen won the World Chess Championship. All of us — his wife Aruna, son Akhil and the team of seconds and managers — met one last time for breakfast in the presidential suite of the Hyatt Regency.

While having pancakes, fruit and cheese, Anand briefly analysed the match. Although jokes were being cracked, at some point, there was unexpected silence. You could hear a pin drop. Everybody was recovering from the big blow. What went wrong? It will take a while to find the right answers.

Anand says that he needs some time to collect his thoughts.

“I will play the London Chess Classic Tournament in two weeks. After that, I will take a long break and spend quality time with my family. I will play in Zurich in February and then we will see if I am ready to play the Candidates Tournament in March 2014,” a drained out Anand told us.

His seconds too are tired, their faces pale. They have worked for hours, for days and for weeks on end, staying up until the wee hours, preparing opening lines. They could only take short walks now and then when Anand was playing the games. “It is a strange feeling, because there is no game today and we do not need to prepare anything,” says Radek Wojtaszek, the Grandmaster from Poland, who has worked with Anand on four World Championship matches.

Grandmaster Peter Leko of Hungary, who has played a World Championship match against Kramnik in 2004 himself, knows exactly how it feels to lose an important match. “A World Championship match sucks all the energy out of you”, says Leko.

Anand may have lost but he has some happy memories about this World Championship.

“I was very touched to see parents who brought their children to the venue to see the games. They bought tickets for their kids and they sat in the front row. It reminded of the times in which I was a kid and my mother used to take me to tournaments,” he says.

The reactions of the crowd deeply moved Anand.

“In Game 2, I opened with 1.e4 and everybody was clapping, because they expected to see an exciting game. In Game 9, the same thing happened, but I was playing 1.d4 in that game. Since 1.e4 did not really bring me good luck in the earlier games, I decided to play a different move. The audience started clapping again, because they knew that I needed to win that game.”

This is something that Anand had not witnessed all through his long career.

“I only knew stories from Russia or other Eastern European countries, in which people clapped, when one of the players made a good move. It shows that the audience had a very good sense for the game, my state of mind and the overall match situation,” he says.

Anand feels that his fans may have been disappointed about the outcome of the match but he assures them he isn’t about to quit.

“I will not give up chess. The people here have been very supportive here,” he says. Soon, he is chasing Akhil around the breakfast tables bringing smiles back on the glum faces in the presidential suite. Don’t worry India, Anand will be back!

As always, Team Anand signed a chessboard, to be displayed in the Chess Tigers Training Center in Bad Soden, Germany.