It's good to have a lot of attention online about me: Anish Giri

CHENNAI: The Candidates Chess can be 5 days away, but if you watch the pre-tournament talk on social media platforms, it is all about one player: Anish Giri .

The 25-year-old Dutch Grandmaster has never shied away from showing his funny side and quipped that if the Candidates were played on Twitter - Then he would win it without hesitation. In a conversation with TOI, the world does not. 11 talked about his preparations for the tournament, the effect of coronavirus and more.


How has the outbreak of coronavirus affected your preparations for the Candidates ?

It hasn't really affected me or my team. Our main training camp was held in February and at that time the virus was only spreading in the few countries, mainly China. I had no Chinese helpers and I'm afraid the problem at the time was mainly for my Chinese competitors: Ding Liren and Wang Hao .

Many feel that players should not shake hands before or after their games. What is your opinion on that?

Shaking hands is a sign of respect towards your opponent. If the reason for not shaking hands is a health safety concern and not a lack of respect or protest, then I see nothing wrong with this temporary measure. For now, perhaps we can greet each other without a handshake, as I think shogi players do.

How do tweets or jokes affect you on social networks?

I believe it is a good thing that there is always quite a lot of online attention around me, it only helps to popularize our fascinating sport and get the fans more excited to watch our games. But indeed it is quite funny when to a question on twitter by various major chess accounts "Who will win the Candidates tournament?" the answers are mostly divided between "Giri will win" and "Giri will not win", as if other players are not even there.

On a serious note, how do you rate your chances in this tournament?

I think I have my chances and all I did during my preparation was to maximize them. For the mathematical number, you will have to check with the bookmakers, but frankly, if it is 5% or 35%, it is not too relevant. I think I can do it and that's all that matters.

You have been part of this tournament before. What are the areas in which you currently feel better than in the previous editions?

A lot depends on the shape of the month/week/day, but more generally, I have much more experience. In addition, I am much more aware of the strengths and weaknesses of myself and my opponents. Also, after our training camp, I feel that I am in my best physical form, which could be important at the end of this long event.

With Teimour Radjabov Out and Maxime Lagrave Obtaining the ticket, how does the dynamics of the tournament change?

It changes the dynamic a lot, directly and indirectly, but I don't think it favors anyone in particular. Of course, especially for Maxime, it is a remarkable situation.

Do you reckon the current coronavirus outbreak should have allowed the Candidates to take place online?

No, playing online is a completely different experience and classic chess events never happen online. This has never been an option, but I believe that if health organizations banned the event, they would prefer to move it later in the year. Online chess is very popular and great, don't get me wrong, but it's a different discipline.

Who according to you are the dark horses at this year's Candidates ?

All mention the 2 best players classified as favorites. The rest, I suppose, are dark horses, but it would be a real surprise if (Kirill) Alekseenko wins: he must be a very talented player. But he has virtually no experience playing the best tournaments and also has a much lower rating than the field.

On a lighter note, do you feel if the Candidates had taken place on Twitter you would have won it hands down?

Yes, of course, but I like challenges and I'm not looking for easy ways, so let's fight for the board.