You also mention that during a game of chess, when aptitude is equal, it’s the attitude that takes you notches higher. Please explain this a little more.
Attitude is everything. First of all, I talk about the Bonn match and how I had this incredible desire to compete against my opponent then, and manage to enjoy the match. I concluded that one of the reasons that match was so good for me, was my attitude as that is what drove everything- from my enthusiasm and how I carried away, to my work, my play. Today I can say that if two rivals are technically balanced, the outcome will be decided by other factors - they can be psychological, they can be motivational, but they won’t be decided purely on technical matters.
Chess is not a team sport and one has to turn inward to draw in resources and energy. Does chess make one introvert? How has it been with you?
It seems sometimes when you are thinking of a certain position or about some aspect of chess, that rest of the world is interrupting. If someone is talking continuously, you feel the noise. But it isn’t that one can’t connect with the world outside. I do enjoy life outside of chess.
Is there a stipulated time that a game of chess takes? What have your longest and your shortest games been so far?
The longest was 15 hours, the shortest was 20 minutes.
It is believed that playing chess improves memory and cognitive abilities and makes one smarter. What's your take?
I think what it trains you to do is improve your pattern recognition. Chess is about seeing a lot of patterns and connecting the dots and seeing the bigger picture, so to speak. And then it’s been proven in many studies, that the academics of students who play a few hours of chess a week get better. They retain information much better. Second is the ability to concentrate on a problem, push aside the distractions because when you play chess game, there is a huge responsibility-- you can’t take your move back. Therefore your decisions become quite critical and you learn to block all other thoughts and during the game, the game is all you can think about. Chess is all about increasing the focus. One byproduct of dealing with so many games and trying to recall what you need at the right time is that it surely improves your memory.
Which is your favourite mind game, the one that you enjoy playing with your son at leisure?
My son and I just have a good time. Well, we do try a game of chess once in a while but anyone with a young son will tell you that getting them to do something itself is a mind game. He does some very interesting puzzle games and after a while, even I get caught in.
Chess originated in India and was called Chaturanga in the sixth century. Yet, when you became Grandmaster there wasn’t anyone else. And now you say there are 65 Grandmasters in the country. What do you say about this?
When I won the world title there was some feeling of chess coming back home, because we invented the game and then lost track of it even though it continued in certain circles. During the time of our kings several 100 years ago, it was still popular in courts. Though modern chess is not the exact version of the game that we exported and there have been modifications, and it’s nice that we are rediscovering the game and competing.