Viswanathan Anand on World Pro-Chess League debut: Groggy, but good

Feb 09, 2018, 08:38 IST | Manisha Mohite

That's how India chess maestro Viswanathan Anand described his World Pro-Chess League debut from his Chennai home late on Wednesday night

Viswanathan Anand
Viswanathan Anand

Sitting miles away from your teammates (in Viswanathan Anand's case, Chennai) yet sharing team bonding, blitzing your moves in a little over 15 minutes and keeping a close eye on your team's progress — that's how things are unfolding in the second edition of the World Pro-Chess League 2018.

The format may appear strange or complex at first glance with the games appearing to be in some sort of a fast-forward mode but World Rapid Champion Anand, who made his debut for Mumbai Movers late on Wednesday night, seems to be relishing anything that's experimental or challenging. Excerpts from a chat with the chess maestro:

How did you decided on joining Mumbai Movers?
I had offers from various teams as the format specifies that each team can play a Free Agent [three of the four players in a match have to be from a nearby locality while a Free Agent can be miles away]. I personally knew Rishi Gupta, the owner of Mumbai Movers, plus I liked the team composition and most importantly, it was an Indian team.

How does it feel to be part of a team but sitting miles apart?
Somehow I was feeling groggy on the night and had a tough time concentrating. I have played online many times but this did appear strange at first, sitting in front of the computer and being video graphed. When you play the Olympiad or the Team Championships, you are physically sitting next to your team. All this lasts till you start the games and get used to it as after that, there is barely any time to think of anything else other than your games. All four of us have been playing from our respective homes but are connected in spirit as a team and see each other on video. Of course, we have a team strategy in place a round.

Tells us about the four games you played on Wednesday night.
The first game was difficult to focus on and petered into a draw. In the second, I landed into an inferior position and then it was a big struggle to stay in the game. I had to slog it out to save the draw. In the third, I could not come up with any idea to make the game interesting and it fizzled into a dull draw, but the fourth game was interesting and I could carve out a neat victory

Is there a temptation to check the team's progress during games?
Thankfully, the team was doing well and we clinched victory before the completion of the games. In fact, we had a three-point cushion, so there was no extra pressure. I was very impressed with Nubair Shah Shaikh's handling of the games, where he defeated two Grandmasters, especially the long drawn win against Benjamin Gerdula in an equal appearing position.

Which round would you be playing in for the team?
I will be playing but won't reveal the round [as it is part of team strategy].

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