After an initial gaffe by the world chess body FIDE, India’s Viswanathan Anand was formally crowned as the world No.1 last week after he won the Morelia-Linares Chess Tournament last month.

He also received the ‘Jameo de Oro’, one of Spain’s highest civilian award given to a foreigner. Anand spoke to Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) candidly about his new achievements. Following are the excerpts of the interview:

Q: FIDE has named you as the number one classical chess player in the world. You are also the leading rapid chess player. Do you feel a sense of professional peace?

A: The game is not over just because I am No.1. I have been in the top three for many years so getting the No.1 spot is a dream that I had. In chess I have always been known as Speedy Gonzales.

When I started playing chess in Chennai in India I always had this habit of playing fast. I played in a local chess club called the Tal Club. There we had this Saturday ritual of playing blitz games. The winner played against a series of rivals. If you lost you had to stand in line for your turn if you won you stayed. Thanks to this I developed the taste for rapid chess.

Everyone always talks of my rapid chess and maybe in a way my performance in rapid chess overshadows my classical chess. So it is nice to be the number one in both.

Q: What do you think should be done to make chess a spectator sport in India?

A: In 1984 we were obsessed in putting the first Grandmaster on the map. Today our team did excellently at the Doha Asian Games. We have four Indians in the top 50. So there has been a silent revolution. Our players are in tournaments all over the world. So there is a change happening.

Recently NIIT (a major Indian software company) and myself joined hands in launching the NIIT Mind Champions Academy. It is a joint initiative to take chess to every corner of the country.

We have about 600,000 children who have been exposed to chess. They are not taught the game but given an environment to explore, learn and achieve. Our aim is to take the number to one million.

Q: One tends to win at chess if one is prepared and plays calmly. What role do intuition, risk, and surprise play in winning games?

A: Preparation is only half the journey. It takes you to the board. From there on you are on your own. Intuition is very critical. If you can predict what your opponent will play you have a very big advantage. Surprise has a lot of value.

So if I can play something my opponent has not looked at or does not feel comfortable playing I have put my rival on the hot seat. Risk is the most potent weapon. For me intuition is my strongest quality. I can feel a position at the board very well.

Q: How do you keep your mind fresh, and away from mental burnout?

A: I try to space my calendar so that I don’t have chess fatigue. Playing different kinds of events like rapid, classical or a different field helps a lot – especially in escaping the monotony of chess tournaments. I try to learn new things and challenge myself constantly.

I dabble in astronomy, learning languages, etc. Sometimes just taking a vacation soon after an event is extremely invigorating. At times just switching off your computer and not controlling your mind is the most effective. It never fails.

Q: What decides a win from a lost game? Flashes of brilliance, sustained work ethic, luck or all of them

A: It takes many months to get one good move in chess and sometimes it takes about 30 seconds before you can spoil everything. You can decide to decline a draw and play on and win, sometimes the inverse also happens and you lose. Once I played Karjakin in Wijk Aan Zee in 2006.

The computer suggested White was doing well, but I found something unexpected. After that white’s position fell apart. If I hadn’t trusted my intuition in that position I would not have entered that line. Sometimes you decide to analyse a bit further. I would say perseverance and intuition is the key.

Q: While playing competitive chess do you encounter tactics like mind games, one-upmanship or sledging? If so, how do you cope with such situations?

A: It is extremely difficult to put yourself in a cocooned environment. If a player is unpleasant or has made some unwarranted comments about you or your game it sometimes motivates you to blank him at the board. One has to decide if it is better to block him out or to use gamesmanship as motivation. Generally before an event or during an event I try to avoid chess sites or forums.