Kolkata:Three-time world chess champion Viswanthan Anand on Thursday said he was lucky to meet American Bobby Fischer who according to him was the greatest ever chess player.
Asked to compare between Fischer and Kasparov, Anand said, "It's difficult to comapre... But, Fischer made the biggest impact in the game. He is a very special person, and I was fortunate to meet him two years ago... He passed away recently, now I consider that I was lucky to meet him."
However, Anand, who recently defended his world championship title against Russia's Vladimir Kramnik in Bonn, said Kasparov was remarkable as he had a longer reign than that of Fischer.
"While Fischer was great in 1970s, Kasparov had a much longer reign from 1984 to 2005... Which is really remarkable." The 40-year-old, however, rued that he did not have much chance to play against Kasparov who retired three years ago.
"It's sort of a pity but that's life... It would have nice to have a big match with him. He is obviously a great player. But I didn't have the chance to play to Kasparov in the last few years. In 2005, when he retired, there was no possibility to play against him," he told reporters.
But he felt now the competition had become too close at the highest level of the game. Five years ago, there was a huge difference between the three of of us - Anand, Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov - and the rest. But now, only 30 points separate the top six players."
"In different years, there are different players... In 2002, it was Topalov who was very difficult to face... In 2007, it's Carlsen. Every year there's some new talent who brings something new to the game."
Having won the world championship title, Anand now focuses on the Linares in Spain next month.
Asked to compare between his triumph in world championship and being the World No 1, Anand said the former was closer to his heart.
"Definitely winning the world championship, to win in Mexico and then retain it this time... It's the pinnacle. I think this time I played better. I managed to prepare well. I also gauged the direction the matches will take. I won it comfortably. So it's really a nice feeling."
He termed Bengal GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly as a promising player, however he asserted that he has more to come and not thinking of his successor.
Asked to name an Indian who could succeed him, Anand said: I am not really planning for an upcoming chess player... (but) There are some really promising players, like Surya Sekhar Ganguly, Krishnan Sasikiran, Parimarjan Negi. Among the girls we have Koneru Humpy, Dronavalli Harika and Tania Sachdev.
Hailing Surya, who was his playing partner ahead of the Bonn duel, Anand said, "I have always found him very impressive. We have been working for some years now. So, before the Bonn fight, I was very keen to have him in my team."
Anand said chess was improving very impressively in India. "If you compare with the situation 20 years back and today, I think a lot has improved. In 1987, there was only one GM... In 1990, we had a second one... Now we have 18... In age group championship, we are winning consistently... The number is pretty impressive and I am very happy about it."
However, he added there's more to be done and the federation (All India Chess Federation) should come forward.
"They (AICF) have done some good things. Now we have lots of tournaments. But perhaps AICF can do a lot more. They should see to it that the game is spread throughout the country. They should also help in organising more international tournaments, the Chennai-based GM told reporters at a feliciation here.