Kolkata: As Indian ace Viswanathan Anand gears to defend his World Chess Championship title against Boris Gelfand later this month, GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly feels it will be "foolish to underestimate the Israeli".
Ganguly, Anand's second in the four-member team, is leaving for Moscow on Thursday for the May 11-30 event.
As this would be the Israeli's first shot at the championship, Ganguly said Gelfand would be highly motivated to prove a point.
"A great positional player, Gelfand is among the top players of the world for last 10 years or so. It will be foolish to underestimate him. He will give his 100 per cent," Ganguly said of Gelfand, who won the Candidates tournament to become Anand's challenger in the World Championship.
"He is a classical player with a deep knowledge of the game. His playing style is very traditional, very typical of the Soviet mindset. But the way he reads a game is simply outstanding."
Anand, who holds a 6-5 overall record against Gelfand, has an unbeaten record since the Biel IZT in 1993. He has been in fine form winning the Leon tournament, Botvinnik Memorial and Corsica Masters Knockout last year.
The city Grandmaster described Anand as the greatest Indian sporting icon.
"I think he is the greatest sports icon in India. He is the world champion for four times in game which is fiercely fought by 180 countries."
Ganguly, who has been Anand's practice pattern since 2008, said, "The biggest quality of Anand is he never stops learning. He has been four-time world champion, but he can still motivate himself pretty well," he said.
"He is always open to suggestions. As a second, I have different responsibilities. I have to give him new ideas about the opening move. It is a very intricate process of research and development. I have learnt a lot of things from him during this period," Ganguly said.
The GM was talking to the reporters on the sidelines of a felicitation function organised by the West Bengal Chess Ad-hoc Committee here yesterday.
The committee also felicitated GM Sandipan Chanda for being the joint winner in Dubai Chess Championship, National Blitz champion Arghyadeep Das and veteran Ananda Kumar Ghosh for his lifetime achievement.
The association has arranged for live coverage of the world meet with expert commentaries in Bengali.
"This is a first-time initiative in India, something that will encourage the youngsters. I'm sure we will get good response," an organiser of the program said.