The 'Seconds' or 'Trainers' in Chess come more into prominence in World Championship matches. Here at the World Chess Championship Match in Bonn Viswanathan Anand has surged three points ahead of his rival, Vladimir Kramnik, and it is no hidden fact that it is the 'home preparation' which has been instrumental in the Indian dishing out such spicy fare.
Almost for a decade Anand was assisted by Elizbar Ubilava of Georgia now based in Spain, in the same home town where Anand resides for some part of the year. A few years back both parted ways amicably.
However, the temptation to speak to Ubilava was too much as this is one 'Second' who has assisted two World Champions as their second, Anand and Anatoly Karpov. He is also the one who perfectly understands every facet of a World Championship Match. Excerpts:
Q: What exactly does a second do in a World Championship Match?
A second is more a strategist than a tactician. A few years back he had to be the player's representative, work as a trainer to enhance emotional, psychological and physical preparation and work as an analyst. Now days the representative part is taken over by 'Managers' for most top players.
Also computers take the largest workload of checking tactical possibilities and also the opponent's preferences and also the new ideas tried out while working on specific Openings. Seconds are useful mainly for discussions, pre-game preparation and post-game analysis.
Q: How should the personal equation between a player and his 'Second" be?
Apart from a working relationship, if there is also a sort of emotional bonding between them, then the results work out better.
Q: You have worked both with Karpov and Anand. How do you see them?
Karpov is one of the mentally toughest player I have seen. I would term Karpov as an 'interpreter' not a 'creator' for he has a fantastic feel for positions. Give him an idea or a variation and he can develop on this. Anand on the other hand has got terrific reflexes which I have not seen in any other player.
I am talking about the fact that give a position and Anand would be way ahead, maybe ten moves or so even as most would have just understood the position. Anand likes to take initiative and in that sense I would say Anand is a 'creator'.
Q: One expects World Champions to be complete players, without flaws?
Each Champion is distinctly different from another and has his own individual style. Before becoming an elite player, the biggest problem for any player is to discover and mould. The weakness should be identified, and though many times it may not be possible to totally eliminate it, the intensity can be considerably lessened. There has to be a hundred per cent harmony or clarity between understanding and perception of a position
Q: Apart from Anand play on board, what qualities in him as a player impresses you?
Mainly two things: firstly , the size of his immense talent which I find very 'extraordinary'. Secondly, he is tremendously organised, more so than any other player I have seen. He does everything possible to improve his game like psychological preparation, physical preparation, theoretical preparation and is continuously thoughtful about making himself stronger.
Q: He lacks ``killer instinct" is the usual European criticism. Do you agree?
(Emphatically) I don't. You have to look at the huge list of tournament victories and two World titles. There were many who started saying this after his loss to Kasparov in 1995 World Championship but don't forget that it was Vishy who drew first blood. The eventual outcome was Kasparov winning but I strongly feel that the difference between them was purely in preparation and not psychological.
Q: What would be your prediction for the Anand Vs Vladimir Kramnik Match?
This will be a tough match. Kramnik has a fine positional sense and no one can beat Vishy when it comes to tactics. However, I have a deep feeling that Vishy will win the title but it will not be so easy as both players are evenly matched.