New Delhi: Grandmaster and former world champion Viswanathan Anand spoke at length about his rivalry with Vladimir Kramnik in the second episode of ‘The Finish Line’. Anand delved into how both of them are on identical scores even after a whopping 150 games. 

Anand’s rivalry with Vladimir is one of the most revered rivalries in the history of modern day sports and it can fall under the same category as that of Ronaldo-Messi, Federer-Nadal, Prost- Senna to name a few.

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When quizzed about his rivalry with Vladimir and what makes it so special and memorable, he commented, “Well, we joined the top of the world chess roughly at the same time, I joined two years ahead of him. At that point I did not remember it yet, but later on he told me that we had met three years ago. I played him once in 1989 which kind of slipped my mind but I met him again in 1992 and that year was his breakthrough moment. Out of the 20 odd years we have swapped the number two, three positions. We were always very close to each other in terms of points, so close that when he retired our scores were absolutely identical even after more the 150 games.”

Anand was a 1E4 player and Vladimir had always been a 1D4 player but Anand decided to go with 1D4 in the big match for the world title.

When asked about what prompted him to go with something in which his opponent was very good, he said, “Well, it was a big risk to take for sure in such a scenario, I looked at my recent games with him where I found that I was finding it very difficult to land the punch in E4. I did not want to get to a position where we were playing some sort of a boring attrition chess, then I suddenly thought why not play with D4 as I have dabbled with it even though I am not very good at it”.

“It wasn’t a logical decision, If I would have written down pros and cons after a while I would have convinced myself to not pursue it. For someone who might not understand, in exaggerated words, it is the equivalent of Federer switching to his left hand against Nadal in a grand slam,” he added.

As a grandmaster Anand obviously goes through a wide array of emotions which comprises of highs and lows, mentally and emotionally, when questioned about the certain tricks that he needed to take care of before the final showdown against Vladimir, he said, “Well, for the world championship, the schedule is fairly luxurious, but that gives you some sort of a starting point. We used to play one white one black, then there is a rest day and it goes on. The idea is to take 2 games at a time. The real difficult moment comes after game 10, because after game 10 he finally managed to pin point one weakness. It was all about making some logical improvisations, but we had done such good work and we had two white pieces. So I managed to neutralize him fairly early. In fact the 11th game did not last very long”.

The eight legends who have been confirmed for season 1 of ‘The Finish Line’ are Abhinav Bindra, Viswanathan Anand, Dinesh Karthik, Pankaj Advani, Smriti Mandhana, Leander Paes, Parul Parmar and Varun Singh Bhati. Snooker legend Pankaj Advani will feature in the next episode of ‘The Finish Line’ this Friday (September 11).