No. 1 ranking motivational target, not an end in itself: Anand

World chess Champion Viswanathan Anand is likely to lose his number one status by next month but the Indian is hardly bothered as he feels ranking is a motivational target rather than an end in itself.

Anand finished joint second in the London Chess Classic last week and is likely to be toppled by winner Magnus Carlsen, in the latest ranking to be released next month. However, the major reason for Anand's slip would be Pearl Spring Chess Tournament in Nanjing where he finished second behind Carlsen.

"It is not because of London that I am no more the world number one, it is because of Nanjing. Nanjing gets carried over, it is a bit confusing. I overtook him in Bilbao and he overtook me in Nanjing and the status quo is maintained," Anand told PTI after launching NIIT Mind Champions Academy at the Ryan International School here.

"Obviously, I would want to be the world number one but I think the main thing is to see the number one ranking as a motivational target rather than an end.

"As long as I am aiming to be number one and I am nearby, I am happy. I'm gaining rating points and that is positive. In fact, I'm currently at my career-high ELO rating. I have never been a 2808 or 2809. My earlier best was 2803, so I feel that the direction is up," he added.

Anand said it is a three-way race for the top spot between Carlsen, Levon Aronian and himself and though he wants to regain his ranking, he is not too worried about it.

"That (ranking) is a function of the margin. Right now, the margin between me and Carlsen is very narrow and one should not forget that Levon Aronian is also there. He is not that far either. We can say it is a three-way race.

"There is a bigger margin between him and Vladimir Kramnik. So including him, you can say it is a four-way race. I don't think one should worry about rankings. If I play well I will be there again," said the iconic GM, who will leave for Ahmedabad tonight to be a part of the Swarnim Chess Mahotsav, which is set to create a new world record with 20,000 players playing simultaneously at the Gujarat University Grounds.

The 41-year-old Indian said he needs to sort out some areas of concern before the next season which starts with the Tata Steel Open in Wijk aan Zee in January.

"I think there are some problem areas. Magnus has been able to win a lot more games than me, he is able to win four games in a tournament and I am a still a bit low in that. In Nanjing I won three, which is probably better.

"But I am happy that I was undefeated and I was able to beat him in my individual encounter but I think it is inevitable there are areas which I have it keep in mind before I start at the TATA Open next month," he said.

Asked about the challenges next year, Anand said he is currently focusing on the first two tournaments which are "ridiculously" tough.

"As always, the tournaments are ridiculously strong. The TATA Steel event Wijk Aan Wee will have a majority of the players from top 10 and a very strong field on top of that and all the groups are interesting, so it will be amazing," he said.

"It is in January and the Monaco event will also be tough. It is in March. No real thoughts, there are huge variations in play of strength, so every round I will meet a very tough guy, so I would look at one round at a time," he added.

Anand said it is very important to first recover emotionally and then technically after each defeat.

"If you lose a game where you genuinely feel that your opponent played much better than you respect that. Although there is a saying in chess that 'nobody ever beat a perfectly healthy opponent'. Everyone has an excuse. But when you lose a game it is important to recover emotionally and then technically," he said.

"You got to put that defeat behind you and later you can sort out the problem and nothing can help you more than good sound sleep. I know it sounds terribly boring," he added.

Asked if he had problems switching on to the football-style scoring at the London Classics, Anand said it is part of the game but admitted that it takes time to get used to the new pattern.

"They wanted to try the football scoring system. We knew that before we played so can't really complain. we need to adjust your thinking, it will take some time to adjust because all your life you have been playing in a particular scoring system. So, certainly difficult to switch. But it is not a big deal," he said.

During his preparation for the World Chess Championship in Sofia, Bulgaria during April-May, Anand had worked with Carlsen and Kramnik.

Asked if it is risky to prepare for a tournament along with rivals, Anand conceded it can be a bit awkward.

"We actually shared some useful information with each other during my preparation for Sofia, it was a bit awkward but then my immediate priority was to win my match in Sofia.

"But afterward, the area you can get into is a bit restricted but that is not a big deal because in chess you can play in some different areas. You can sort out a different area and play them there. There are many areas still where we can play each other," he said.

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