February 24, 2020
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'Unexpected Bonus'

'I thought I will win the title (Morelia-Linares) but the world number one ranking is a pleasant surprise. I am up there with my best performance.'

'Unexpected Bonus'
After his creditable performance to win the Morelia-Linares tournament, Viswanathan Anand today said gaining the top spot in the world rankings came as an "unexpected bonus" which would do wonders to his confidence.

Anand, who had a roller-coaster ride after his record fifth Corus win which catapulted him in the ELO 2800 club last year, said he had seen the title coming with three rounds remaining but top-ranked Veselin Topalov's loss in a later round ensured him the career-best placement in FIDE rankings.

The Indian Grandmaster, who was just four ELO points behind Topalov in the January list, will for the first time in his career climb to the number one spot when the International Chess Federation updates the list in April.

"I thought I will win the title here but the world number one ranking came as a bonus. It is completely unexpected, a pleasant surprise. I am up there with my best performance," Anand said from Madrid.

Anand said although he did not try for it, the feat meant a lot to him and it would add to his confidence ahead of the World Championship match slated in Mexico City in September.

"For any sportsperson it is a very special feeling. It is good for my confidence," he said.

"If you just play and find yourself in the number one spot it's nice. But it's kind of funny that at 2803 I was second in the world but that now at something less I'll probably be number one in April."

Anand will gain eight rating points to be ELO 2786 while Topalov, ELO 2783, is set to lose 18 points.

Having conquered everything now, what would be the driving force for him to excel further?

"The main thing is go on and enjoy. I am always motivated to play chess. I will play for the love of the game," he said.

The former world champion, however, said he would "start from the scratch" in the World Championship match.

He was happy that it would be played in Morelia too, his happy hunting ground during the just concluded tournament.

"I was tied-first in the Morelia leg of the tournament and I am happy that I will come here again to play the World Championships.

"I'd return to Morelia in an instant. We had a good time, the acclimatisation in Patzcuaro was also great," he said.

The 37-year-old player said he went ahead and took his chances in all the games without compromising even for a half point en route to his second title in Linares after 1998.

"I made more points in Morelia but I think I played well in both places. I was in trouble in quite a few games but I took my chances in all games. I don't think I conceded even a half point when did not need to," he said.

"Perhaps most important was to save the half, in fact, a point against (Peter) Leko in Morelia. First, because Peter is a tough opponent and to beat Leko with black is going to help you in a tournament.

"Also it was the seventh game and I would have had five days to think about losing had it not gone well. So it was important not to lose that one and it gave me a good state of mind for the second half," he said.

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