Chennai: “Self confidence is very important. If you don't think you can win, you will take cowardly decisions in crucial moments, out of sheer respect for your opponent. You see the opportunity but also greater limitations than you should. I have always believed in what I do on the chessboard, even when I had no objective reason to. It is better to overestimate your prospects than underestimate them.“
Magnus Carlsen's words sum up just why defending champion Viswanathan Anand trails 2-4 against the world no. 1 in the 12-game world chess championship in progress here.
Anand's hesitation to take the b-pawn in game three and press for an advantage proved fatal, as the young man from Norway refused a subsequent draw offer in that game to reach a bishop each forced draw ending.
Carlsen's determination to play till the last man standing is proving to be a great psychological blow to five-time champion Anand, who belongs to a generation that respects opponents by accepting draws in equal positions.
This doesn't imply that Carlsen doesn't respect other players. But as he has said, the Mozart of Chess believes in overestimating himself and playing for a win from seemingly clear draw positions. After his first win on Friday, Carlsen said that since Anand was in time trouble, he expected the Indian to walk into a mate.
This assessment cannot be questioned unless he himself walks into his opponent's trap by overplaying such drawish games. And currently that could be the only possibility for Anand to make a comeback in this series.
The Tiger from Madras has nothing left to prove in the game. The first world junior champion and GM from India has achieved everything that a top-class chess player is expected to win in his career.
Going a step ahead of his predecessors in chess history, Anand also endeared himself with his down-to-earth atti tude. His tournament victories and world titles in three different formats would alone make him one of the chess stalwarts in history. His talent and temperament evoked respect even from his opponents.
The Norwegian's actions on and off the board reflect his confidence. From more `I don't know' postures, the youngster is now active at the press conference, while the experienced Anand, who is struggling to battle his disappointment, is slowly getting monosyllabic.
How will the Indian master take it from here?
Desperation is not going to help.
With six more rounds to go, he could still play it safe in two more games and then go for the kill in the next two and later take the game to a tiebreaker. For Carlsen, who is gunning for his first world title, the will to win from every position could lure him into complacency .
It is not that Anand alone who could be making mistakes in the fifth hour. Carlsen is also a human and he could be doing the Indian a favour if he keeps overplaying drawish positions....