Chennai: As a stern test awaited his quest for a sixth title, Indian chess wizard Viswanathan Anand was a picture of confidence and he promised an attacking game against Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the much-awaited World Championship match that begins here on Saturday.
Anand, the undisputed world champion since 2007, faces a strong challenge from the 22-year-old Norwegian sensation Carslen in one of the most awaited World Chess Championship matches in recent history.
Asked how well he has prepared for the event, Anand said, "I worked as I always did. Couple of months of training and I think I am ready to attack. We will see how it goes but I think I am ready to play."
"I am really excited to play in my home city. I am looking forward to the match starting and getting on to that," he said after the inauguration of the event by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
In terms of hype, the match between five-time champion Anand and world number one Carlsen is comparable to the historic clash between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky way back in 1972.
The two players sought to play a bit of mind games in their first press conferences ahead of the match, with Carlsen refusing to disclose the names of his seconds after Anand said Indian Grandmasters K Sasikiran and Sandipan Chanda, Hungarian Peter Leko and Poland's Radoslav Wojtaszek would assist him in the November 9-28 event.
"I appreciate Mr Anand's openness about his team but I will say I am not going to return the favour," Carlsen said.
"I am happy today. It is good to be here. Everything is good so far and I am looking forward to the match starting," said the current world number one Carlsen who won the right to contest against Anand after winning the Candidates Tournament earlier this year.
Asked about his response on Carlsen refusing to name his seconds, Anand said, "Since he cannot believe the whole truth about it and either of us, it does not really matter. I mean, I can answer a question honestly but you will never know whether it was the whole truth or not. The same goes for him. So, it does not really matter too much." When a scribe asked a question to Carslen in French, the FIDE media officer requested him to translate it into English before answering in English, but the Norwegian refused.
"I really do not know if this question should be really translated into English but I will have to reply," Carlsen said before replying in French.
Anand was also not to be left behind as he answered a question in Tamil a couple of minutes later.
Anand said that he was not perturbed by suggestions that he would begin as the underdog in the match.
"I don't know. In general, I get ready to play against certain opponent. That is it. As for whether some thinks I am a favourite or not or the percentage that I enjoy, I do not know what you can do with that information any way."
Having won five world titles, Anand said his experience could come in handy in the 12-game match which will be played at the Hyatt Regency here.
"Obviously, it is one factor among many. I will bring to bear those factors into my game. Definitely it is one of my resources I would like to draw from. We will have to see."
Carlsen also sought to downplay the view of some experts that he will start as favourite in the match.
"I do not know if everyone considers me a favourite but in general I expect to do well in tournaments. If I manage to do well to my abilities and levels, I can win and that will be my mind set here as well," he said.
Anand was emotional when asked about his quest of winning the sixth title in his home city.
"For me, I am happy to play world championship match in Chennai in this life, which is my home. I thank J Jayalalithaa for helping me and making it happen in Chennai. It would not have happened without the Chief Minister's interest in the matter. I am really grateful to her for that.
"Now that has come to true that I am to play at home, I must now try and play my best. At this moment, I am only thinking as to how I am going to play," he said.
In a recent television interview, Carlsen had said that Anand enjoys good food and he (Anand) is somewhat lazy even though much more serious for a match like this. But asked about this, the Indian refused to react.