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Looking forward to playing again: Viswanathan Anand

The enthusiasm was palpable in Viswanathan Anand’s voice as he spoke from Croatia about his return to competitive chess after a gap of more than a year. He is set to make his moves at the Croatian Grand Chess Tour, which opens at Zagreb on July 7.

“I am really happy to be able to play again,” Anand told The Hindu on Saturday. “Only when I enter the tournament hall, see the stage, the board, the pieces, the arbiters and all that will it feel like how it used to be. But I am looking forward to the experience.”

The five-time World champion said it felt nice to be travelling again.

“It was 375 days for me from airport to airport,” he said. “I had landed in Chennai on June 6 last year. So I was very happy just to experience travelling again after such a long time.”

In Croatia, Anand will meet his old rival, Garry Kasparov. The two had played several unforgettable games before the Russian retired in 2005. Kasparov had come out of the retirement to take part in the Saint Louis Grand Chess Tour in the United States in 2017. Anand had played in that event too.

“There will be lots of memories when we face each other across a chessboard once again,” Anand said. “The chess here could be different from what we used to have years ago.”

As for life after COVID in Croatia, he said things looked normal. “Everybody is enjoying the summer here,” he said. “You still see masks and hand-washing, but essentially it looks like how it used to be.”

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