February 29, 2020
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Catch Me If You Can

'Some critics say I am too much of a gentleman to show killer instinct. I guess after my win in Corus (his fifth), my critics will have to think of something new now.'

Catch Me If You Can

India's chess legend Viswanathan Anand believes his record fifth Corus Super Grandmaster title is the best answer to the criticism that he lacks killer instinct.

"Some critics say I am too much of a gentleman to show killer instinct. I guess after my win in Corus, my critics will have to think of something new now," Anand said in a telephonic interview.

Anand recently won the Corus title at Wijk Aan Zee in the Netherlands for fifth time, surpassing the records of Holland's Max Euwe, Hungary's Lajos Portisch and Switzerland's Victor Korchnoi, who have won the title four times each and are no longer active players.

"The others who have won four times cannot compete with my record and all those who won it once will at least take four years to just catch up with me!" said Anand, who first won the title as a 19-year-old in 1989 and repeated the feat in 1998, 2002 and 2004.

By winning the title this time, Anand also crossed the coveted 2800 ELO rating for the first time in his career as he gained almost 11 points from the elite tournament. He was on 2792 before the start of the tournament.

But the veteran of 64 squares said the record was more significant to him than the ELO rating.

"For me both the achievements are important. I was trying for the 2800 rating for quite sometime. But I would say the record is more important to me. The rating is just a milestone," the country's first Grandmaster said.

"Only three players have won it four times and I have been able to overtake them at this high level tournament. For me it is indeed a big achievement. "There is not a big difference between 2792 to 2800 but it is important because it reflects your wins and games. Besides, there are very few players above that mark," said Anand, who emerged winner after edging past Bulgaria's Veselin Topalov on a superior tiebreak.

Anand also revealed that he was looking to upstage the Bulgarian from the top spot in FIDE's ranking list.

"Of course, if you are playing at this level, you ought to be competitive. For that you have to play a lot of tournaments. I will soon get back to the top rank."

Anand is still some points behind Topalov and has plans to play and earn points to get to the top of the rankings list.

"Topalov played incredibly well last year. I also played well but I am still some 8-9 points behind him.

"In the recent tourney also, we played against each other and learnt from each other. Last year he was finishing ahead of me, but I have caught up with him in this tournament."

Like Anand, Topalov also finished with six wins, six draws and one loss -- against Michael Adams of England in Corus which the Indian said was one of the strongest events where he particularly enjoyed playing this year.

"Clearly, it is the biggest event of the year and this year it was most interesting as there were a lot of decisive games, around 42 to 45 per cent, which is a very high number," said Anand, who rated the title as the best achievement of his career, on par with his World Championship win in Tehran in 2002.

The Madrid-based player was satisifed with his performance in the tournament.

"A win is not always indicative of your level of play but I am overall happy with my performance. I have played many good games and 5 is a winning score in such tournaments with the top players of the world," said Anand, who had a 6 score in the 1998 edition.

About his only defeat in the event -- against old nemesis Russian-turned-American Gata Kamsky -- he said it had really pulled his morale down and he had to really exert himself to make a comeback.

"There are days when you wake up and just about everything goes horribly wrong. It was that day. I had to win three matches just to exorcise the ghost of that game. I chose a line that was bad and as they say in chess all moves in a bad position are bad."

On his last round victory, he said "When I knew I had a good chance to win, the thought did cross my mind, that this was the moment and I just had to seize it. I thought for a long time and made sure that I had the game nailed. Actually, I didn't realise that I had crossed 2800."

Anand, who has decided to skip the upcoming Linares tournament to take a break after his busy schedule, also praised the young Indian crop and singled out K Sasikiran for his aggressive style.


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