Anand bucks up Dhoni team, says defending title tougher

June 16th, 2009 - 9:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Indian Grand Master Vishwanathan Anand Tuesday empathised with the Indian cricket team, facing backlash for their early exit from the World Twenty20, saying that defending a title is always tougher.
Anand, who successfully defended his chess World Championship title at Bonn in Germany last year, said: “Pressure is always there. I prefer to block it rather than let it play on my mind. And it is always difficult to retain than winning a tournament.”

“I remember before the World Championship at Bonn, I isolated myself with the chess, so that I am not affected by the pressure. I am almost paranoid about it and I guess it worked for me,” Anand recalled.

“I feel the Indian cricket team had a good chance but every new format throws a new winner. I feel they had a good chance but I guess you need a bit of luck as well.”

On chess front, NIIT brand ambassador Anand is particularly pleased with the performance of Bulgarian Vaselin Topalov, whose win in the Challengers in Sofia has given him the right to challenge the Indian for the 2009 World Championship title.

“Topalov is a dangerous opponent. He never accepts defeat. Even after several setbacks, you will find he has been able to create something new,” Anand said.

Besides Topalov, Norwegian teenager Magnus Carlsen and Armenia’s Lev Aronian are the two players Anand highly rates.

On Garry Kasparov’s comment that his rein as the World Champion at the age of 40 will end soon, Anand said: “I don’t think it is the age but the lack of drive which is the decisive factor. The danger is when you stop enjoying the tension of playing the game.”

“It is strange that how in November, he (Kasparov) saw a great future for me and then couple of months later he sees a different future. It reveals his mindset when he decided to retire.”

Reflecting on his performance this year, Anand said: “I was well prepared for Linares but I slipped in the second round. It was not the best of my performance but I don’t think it was bad either.”

“I started playing well from Nice and then continued the form in Baku and Hungary. I have been trying to bring in some changes in my game. Chess gives you the ability to do new things, which partly has been the reason of my success in the last two years,” Anand said. He will next be playing at Mainz in July.

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