Anand's advice: Experiment and gain experience but don’t specialise too early
May 14, 2016 | 10:55 PM
by A. SESHAGIRI RAO / [email protected]

Muscat: A day after playing his first ever simultaneous exhibition match in Oman against 22 local talents, Indian chess legend Vishwanathan Anand sat down to analyse a few of those games for the benefit of all at the International Chess Academy of Oman (ICAO) on Saturday evening.

The five-time world champion also interacted with the students of the ICAO and in response to some of the queries, Anand gave advice on what to focus on as beginners while also picking Magnus Carlsen as his favourite to defend his world title in November this year.

On Friday evening, Anand played the simultaneous match as part of his visit, arranged by ICAO with support from Zawawi Establishment’s Al Alawi Enterprises, to promote chess in the Sultanate.

The match, as expected, ended 22-0 in favour of Anand but the Indian maestro said he was made to focus by the local talents.

“I should say, after the 16th and 17th moves I realised I had to really focus,” he said.

While expressing his appreciation for those who competed against him, Anand said: “Of course, there were some gaps which the players should and will learn to avoid.”

And on Saturday, Anand sat down along with ICAO head coach Ismael Karim to speak about those ‘complex positions’ while analysing some of the games.

The lucky ones to see the former world champion analyse their games were Emil Sebastian, 11-year-old Jijo Joy and one of Oman’s top players Said Ahmed Fadhil.

The session proved why is known for his phenomenal memory as he went on to recall each move and spoke about what would have been better options for both his challengers and himself.

Certainly it proved a very useful session for the students of the game and an easy one for Anand to conduct.

But the interactive session that followed really made it a more interesting evening, with the young kids shooting some difficult questions at the Indian great.

There were simple questions like how old were you when you played your first game and your advice to beginners, eliciting replies: six years and constant practice respectively.

Asked to share the tips to improve concentration, he said: “It’s all about interest. In studies, you concentrate more on the subjects you like. It is the same in chess. It’s the interest that helps to improve your concentration.”

To a question on the chess openings and whether the beginners should concentrate on just a few strategies, he said: “Experiment but don’t specialise too early. As the beginners, you should experiment with openings and try to improve. You can specialise later.”

The two most difficult questions came at the end.

One youngster asked what went wrong when he lost his world title to Magnus Carlsen in 2013 in Chennai.

His reply: “Sometimes everything works for you and some days it doesn’t. And it was one of those days!”

Then he was asked by another kid to pick his favourite in the forthcoming World Chess Championship match between Norway’s Carlsen and his Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin.

Anand without any hesitation picked the man who dethroned him back in 2013 and went on defend the title two years later.

“My money will be on Carlsen. (Sergey) Karjakin has all the qualities to win the match. But everybody thinks it is going to be Carlsen,” he said.

The evening ended with Anand signing autographs for the children with their parents joining in later to take selfies and photographs.

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