Former world champion Vishwanathan Anand’s rivalry with Vladimir Kramnik is one of the most revered rivalries in the history of modern day sports. During the second episode of The Finish Line — an eight-part web series conceptualised by Baseline Ventures — Anand spoke at length about his rivalry with Kramnik and delved into how both of them are on identical scores even after a whopping 150 games.
When quizzed about his rivalry with Kramnik and what makes it so special and memorable, Anand said: “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 2-3 position. 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,” he added.
Anand was a 1E4 player and Kramnik had always been a 1D4 player but the Indian decided to go with 1D4 in the big match for the world title. “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,” said Anand.
“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.