Reports | May 14, 2010 16:14

"I honestly thought he had gone nuts" - interview with the World Champion

Interview with the World ChampionOn Tuesday, World Champion Viswanathan Anand from India retained his title by defeating Veselin Topalov from Bulgaria 6.5-5.5, thereby also creating an all-time record of unique visitors on one day at this website. A day later he sat down for a lengthy interview with ChessVibes - enjoy a 28.5 (!) minute video interview with the World Champ.

"I honestly thought he had gone nuts", Viswanathan Anand told us about the mistake by his opponent Veselin Topalov in the decisive game of the World Championship. "Either he had missed Qe8, or I had missed something." We spoke with Anand about all games, about the Sofia rule, about playing slow ("I never thought anyone would advise me to play faster"), his favourite curry, about which historical world champion he'd like to play, and several other things. In other words: a mixture of my questions and questions from the ChessVibes readers. Enjoy!

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


badknight's picture

thanks for posting the interview. i would love to get a written transcript, as it is very hard to follow in many places. i would also love to have illustrating diagram during analysis.

Radical Caveman's picture

Anand has really achieved something historic here. He is one of only four classical world chess champions--only two in the past century--to win a title defense match against more than one opponent!

The others are Steinitz, Lasker, and Kasparov. Steinitz beat Chigorin (twice) and Gunsberg. Lasker beat Steinitz (in an 1896 rematch after Lasker was champion), Marshall, Tarrasch, and Janowski (he also tied a title defense against Schlechter). Kasparov beat Karpov in title defenses in 1986 and 1990, and also beat Short and Anand (he tied Karpov in a 1987 title defense).

Okay, my definition is a little tricky: Botvinnik tied two title defense matches against Bronstein and Smyslov, retaining the title on draw odds, but this doesn't count because he didn't win those matches. Later, he won two rematches where he was the challenger and not the defender, against Smyslov and Tal, so again this doesn't count. Karpov and Alekhine won title defenses twice but against the same person (Korchnoi and Bogolyubov).

Nonetheless, Anand's feat of acquiring the world title, and then vanquishing both Kramnik and Topalov from the throne, is historic. Granted, world championships are contested more often now than in former days, which makes it a little more likely to happen. All the same, hats off to Vishy!

Thomas's picture

Nice video! Did anyone notice that - at the very beginning (images from the closing ceremony) - Anand applauded for Topalov, but Topalov apparently simply had his hands behind his back when it was Anand's turn?

Conqueror of Anand's picture


While your argument has some face validity to it, there are problems in coming up with a strategy that is mathematically guaranteed to work (in the sense that it will identify the stronger player 95 out of 100 times), and yet is practical at the same time. What if the match goes on for a very long time with no one achieving a 3 game lead? Remember the Karpov-Kasparov match where the first one to win 6 games was supposed to be the winner. Karpov took a 5-2 lead, but Kasparov came back and tied it 5-5, and then a series of draws before Compamanes had to intervene and stop the match after almost 50 games!

Sure the results of the Anand-Topalov match could have been different had they played 13 or 15 or 24 games. Toplaov might win if they played another match of 12 games a month later. The best way to determine who "in truth" is the better player would be let Anand and Topalov play a large number of 12 game matches, say, a 100 of them. Whoever wins the majority of them is the better player. This is ridiculous, of course, but you get my point. The point is not to identify who in "truth" is the better player, but who in a specific match can demonstrate all the qualities that are essential to winning the match, which tautologically is the one who actually wins the match!

Sanjeevi's picture

Thanks a lot to Peter and Chessvibes for this interview - never seen any other Anand interview where he is so relaxed and also witty. Peter seems to have the knack of bringing the best out of Anand!

Peter: You said you spoke to some of the seconds as well, will that be published as videos?

Joe's picture

@sdd: If it would have been easy to find a clear format for giving the stronger player the WC title in an absolutely undisputable way it would probably have been found out by now and been accepted as a common sense solution for such problems.
I understand the point though. But once you signed up to some rules to play for WC you should also be taking the outcome. And a 'theoretically perfect match' would be practically impossible to play. Plus the outcome would still be debated on because it will be dependant again on other random things (physical state of the players, endurance, 'team' behind the players etc...)

Sanjeevi's picture

@Thomas: Yes that looked a bit odd, it looked as if Topalov wanted to deliberately avoid that uncomfortable moment - he simply avoided by dabbling with his own medal during that crucial moment! Of course slightly later he smiled, but he never applauded visibly.

Or are we assuming too many things? I am still inclined to give the benefit of doubt of Topalov

Martin Matthiesen's picture

@ Conqueror of Anand:
Karpov was actually up 5-0 in the match against Kasparov, and when Campomanes stopped the match, he led 5-3.

CAL|Daniel's picture

too bad no one asked Vishy if he knew or suspected that Topalov had access to Rybka4.

CAL|Daniel's picture

Great interview though.

I wonder if Topalov having Rybka4 explains why he was so stubborn in the opening. He figured having a better comp meant he would win by force? I also wonder if Rybka4 is why he keeps giving these insane interviews that say he missed wins in 4 games.

Heisusingrybka's picture

Wake up chessvibes, there are news about Karpov, Russia Federation nominated Karpov.

Hans van Perken's picture

Fantastic interview. Good questions, you asked everything I wanted to know. Great world champion, he is everything I want to be.
Best chess video I have ever seen. Thank you so much.

Ritch's picture

Peter --and all the ch.v. team-- thank you for the great great coberture of this fantastic match, you have a superb chess site.

As you can see English is not my native tongue. The few English I know I had learned it cracking internet stuff with dictionary --and google traslator-- in hand. I can read it, but I hardly understand anything when HEARING IT. Is posible to get a transcription of the interview? Thanks a lot.

santiago's picture

Wow! Great interview. Anand was interested in the questions (because they are good questions, not the dull questions they got asked in the press conferences), and it shows. He was very generous. He gave us a lot of information, he really wanted to give us something.

Thanks a lot.

Pierre's picture


Dr. Wolfgang Berghorn's picture

@forest: Thank you very much for your advice! This morning I eventually detected the DONATE button an it worked perfectly! - My experience in the past was a very different affair, which only Mr Peter Doggers could explain publicly!

Thomas's picture

@Sanjeevi: In the meantime, it became harder to give Topalov the benefit of doubt - see his post-match interviews. CAL|Daniel mentioned it briefly, one was translated by mishanp and subsequently discussed at Dailydirt:
"Everyone can see that Anand didn't really win the match - I lost it."
"He missed only one win - in the ninth game, while I missed four. We destroyed his opening preparation in the first game and he played without openings".

And the interview by Bulgarian Chess Federation president Stefan Sergiev was even worse (same thread at Dailydirt):
"Anand showed absolutely nothing. He showed that he's far from his best years ... He simply waited for our player to go wrong and then struck. "

Thomas's picture

@CAL|Daniel: This (Rybka 4 issues) was addressed in an Anand interview with a German newspaper:

Q According to rumors the Bulgarian side paid 100,000 Euro to get Rybka 4 for their match preparation. Reportedly that's the reason why Vasik Rajlich puts it on the market only after the WCh.
"I cannot comment on this. During the match I don't read any chess news, and my team rather doesn't let me know such stories. Now it would of course be interesting to know if this is really true. Right now I don't care much because I won the match."

Sanjeevi's picture

@Thomas: Yes, you are right, the bitterness shown by Topalov and Sergiev is appalling and unsportsmanlike to say the least.

On the other hand I found it very refreshing when Anand mentioned in the interview to Chessvibes that he drew inspiration from Kramnik's Slav defence to ward off Topalov's challenge in Elista.

ebutaljib's picture


Chigorin might have been a World Champion between 1889 and 1892. It's one of those unclear things from the chess history.

Read here:

Pierre's picture

Russian Chess Federation nominates Karpov!

Peter Doggers's picture

@ Dr. Wolfgang Berghorn
Not sure what you're referring to, but please drop me an email if you still have a question about this. Anyway, I can tell you that your donation worked perfectly fine - thanks a lot!

@ All who'd like to see a transcript
I understand, but this is a few hours work, I'm afraid, which I don't have at the moment. Any volunteers? ;-)

ebutaljib's picture

Anand's and your English is perfectly fine and understandable. It's English from some listeners that causes the problem, not yours :)

herb white's picture

@ etubaijib: but a text version of this great interview would still be helpful to millions who don't have access to the video.
my cell phn for example doesn't allow me to watch the video. sniff. sniff. and i live in germany where everything is (shd be) technologically possible. text version pls.

Sergio's picture

Favourite qoute: If i wanna play badly atleast i do it fast.

Should remember that for my own games.

noyb's picture

I hope that Topalov didn't pay $100K for exclusive use of Rybka 4 for match. If so, it just proves the old addage: "A fool and his money are soon parted."

Kevin's picture

Thank you. It's very nice interview. I would like share another interview of Viswanathan Anand.,_In...

Septimus's picture

From the interview link on Mig's site, it seem that Toplaov and the BCF have no class. They are making Bulgarian chess look bad. I just don't understand the post-match ranting? You lost man...STFU and deal with it! I hope this punk Topalov gets destroyed at the next candidates match....

KingTal's picture

@Septimus: Can you post the link please i don´t see where it is.

Sergio's picture

@septimus, if you say things like that could you atleast provide a link to the interview so that readers of this site can make up their own mind about it?

buri's picture

Yeah I'm on the same boat...I also can't see the video on my phone and my home computer has dial-up so it would take like 12 hrs to download the video :(

Thomas's picture

Septimus refers (probably) to the translation by mishanp at Dailydirt:

"Everyone can see that Anand didn't really win the match - I lost it."

"He missed only one win - in the ninth game, while I missed four. We destroyed his opening preparation in the first game and he played without openings".

Septimus's picture

Here you go bad:

Search for user name "mishnap" under comments. Link he provided is the following:- (audio file..I just read the text)

Septimus's picture

Sorry guys. Thomas has the correct link.

vishal's picture

Thanks for this great interview!!

Sanjeevi's picture

@Conqueror of Anand: I saw the partial video at the following link which is in Bulgarian and Russian (thanks to mishanp who has provided this link in chessninja)

The song which is referred to is probably the "Vande Mataram" which is heard in this video - simply superb.

But I did not hear the Indian National anthem which obviously cannot be replaced with Vande Mataram even if it is Anand's request.

Anyways, I am speculating things hear - but the Vande mataram song itself with Anand's trophy is an awesome combination. Enjoy!

John's picture

Peter, if not a text transcript, then could you strip the audio and publish that separately?

buri's picture

“He missed only one win – in the ninth game, while I missed four. We destroyed his opening preparation in the first game and he played without openings”

Topalov said something similar like this in the Kramnik match. He doesn't seem to get it though...having a win in a position is completely different from actually finding it...and if you can't find it then it says a lot about your chess. Its funny seeing him boasting about the first win as if it were really preparation coming from him when it was basically Rybka 4 who did it all. Topalov's a sore loser and I think he has to face the fact that he's the 21st century Keres.

Conqueror of Anand's picture

On the official website for the world championship, there is a statement saying "the Organizing Committee congratulated the world champion with his favorite Indian song." Can anyone from India tell me which song they are referring to? I hope they are not referring to the national anthem!

By the way, the official website is such a poor excuse for one. Are there any videos of the closing ceremony? Any inetrviews with Toplaov and Anand? I

christos (greece)'s picture

I just read Anand's interview at Chessbase and I am astonished. They asked him about his seconds and he basically said that all three top players in the world, (other than Topalov) were on his side and came in to help him:

Carlsen was his sparring partner for two days in March, Kasparov was lecturing him on opposite color Bishop endings after game 8, and Kramnik's advice on openings was "priceless".

This shows that Topalov has few friends among the chess playiers elite, except, of course, Danailov.

Conqueror of Anand's picture

Thanks, Sanjeevi.

Conqueror of Anand's picture

Thanks for this pointer, Christos.

A phenomenally candid interview with Anand! It is just so nice to see the human side of these great chess minds and to know that while they are fierce opponents over the board, they are so warm and emotional way from it. This also speaks very highly of the esteem and affection that Anand has among his peers.

Krish's picture

Another excellent interview with Anand in chessbase.

Lots of very interesting secrets!

Sergio's picture

So basicly a couple of GM's beat a 114 computer cluster.

pete's picture

off topic: I just found that pic in Susan Polgar's archive
Danailov and Topalov look sooo different

Arvin's picture

@Krish and Sergio: I enjoyed reading it as well. Very interesting article presented by Chessbase! Human (cluster) still reigns supreme in chess.

Also, thank you ChessVibes for the great coverage of the World Championship Match! You truly did a great job!

Ron's picture

The Chessbase interview is stunning!

ainglepack's picture

After reading Anand's interview, I could feel that human emotion that was flowing all around him. Kaspy, Kramnik, Carlsen so many elite players eager to help him on their own. Anand and actually feel frustration/excitement/happiness...based upon Anand's play during the match. Amazing! I actually became emotional reading the interview. Both Kaspy and Kramnik gained several notches of respect in my eyes. Especially Kramnik, who exchanged notes with one of his direct competitors.

One well known facet of human life is visibe here. One should be a gentleman like Anand and earn friends unlike Topalov who lost many friends and his 100,000 Euros could only buy him a Rybka Cluster but no well-wisher and definitely not a victory.

Krish's picture

and Topalov used this

Here is the comedy part.....
.......Until then it will help young local chess players, who will be playing games and analysing with the supercomputer. :) :)

Krish's picture

You are absolutely right. My emotions was also similar when I read chessbase interview.


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