Chennai: Hungarian Grandmaster Peter Leko was the surprise inclusion in defending champion Viswanathan Anand's team even as his Norwegian challenger Magnus Carlsen kept his cards close to his chest ahead of their much-anticipated World Championship match starting on Saturday.
Krishnan Sasikiran and Sandipan Chanda were the two Indians in the team of five-time world champion apart from his regular 'second' Radoslav Wojtaszek of Poland. Sasikiran was an expected inclusion and Chanda's name had also been finalised long back.
Surprisingly, Carlsen refused to comment on his team for the championship.
"I appreciate Mr. Anand's openness about his team. Alas! I am not going to return the favour," Carlsen said.
Leko's inclusion could be the masterstroke that Anand is known for. It may be recalled that Anand had former FIDE world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan as his team member for his 2008 match against Vladimir Kramnik and floored the Russian in all departments.
Peter Leko is known to be a tough customer who has played with Anand several times in various tournaments and also in a Rapid-match organised in his home country.
Leko was known for his formidable approach when keeping the game quiet and outplaying opponents from level position in his prime, something Carlsen has mastered and executed with much more confidence than anyone.
In fact, Anand's whole team is a typical mix of 'positional masters'. Krishnan Sasikiran has been in top 50 of the world rankings previously and is a renowned researcher in the game.
Sandipan Chanda has a similar style. Wojtaszek is the only one in Anand's team this year who has been part of his previous world championship campaigns.
During the press conference Anand shrugged off Carlsen's comments about not returning the favour, "It doesn't really matter, I can answer a question honestly and you will never know if it's the full truth or not."
Replying to another question on staying at the same venue where the championship is held, Anand said he finds it very convenient as there is no travel involved.
Carlsen on the other hand opined that "it had logistical advantages but it can be a little tough to be at the same place for a long time".
The first press conference showcased Anand's poise against Carlsen's restlessness.
The Norwegian, in fact, went to extent of stopping the translation of a question that had been asked to him in his mother tongue.
"I really don't know if this question should be translated into English," he said.
A couple of minutes later, Anand answered a question in Tamil.