The extraneous support from the likes of Gary Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik in his World Championship battle has not diminished Viswanathan Anand's faith in his team of seconds. The Indian chess wizard on Tuesday ruled out any change in what he calls a 'band of brothers'.
It was an unprecedented meeting of extraordinary minds as former World champions Kasparov and Kramnik offered generous inputs to Anand, as did reigning world number one Magnus Carlsen to help the Indian beat Bulgarian Veselin Topalov in Sofia last month.
"I worked with Kasparov, Kramnik and Carlsen ahead of the World Championship but it would be very difficult to change my team now because we are now like band of brothers," Anand said on the sidelines of a product launch event.
Anand's team of seconds comprise Grandmaster Peter Heine-Nielsen of Denmark, Indian GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly, Polish GM Radoslav Wojtasek and former world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan.
"It always helps you when you work with the same set of people for long. We have been working with each other for quite sometime and we have respect for each other. This team has worked for me.
"As a team we get together very well. We spend lot of time together because you never know when one will get an idea. We do a lot of brainstorming sessions. They used to work whole night and slept only three to four hours daily during the World Championship," Anand said.
Recalling the match against Topalov, Anand said, "It was the toughest match I had ever played. If you look at my other world championship encounters, never a game went to the wire. Till the last moment nobody knew who is the winner.
"Topalov is a great rival. He is a tough rival for any player. You have to give him credit too," he said.
Asked to react to Topalov's criticism, Anand said, "I know how to leave my rivalry in chess board only."
Looking ahead, said he would be participating in five to six tournaments this year including London Chess Classic.
"My focus would be on good performances in these events as my tournament performances in 2009 was not that good."
Like most, Anand proved he too is not immune to the FIFA World Cup fever and having shifted his base to Spain, the Indian chess ace said he is closely following the fortunes of his adopted country, along with that of Argentina.
"I am watching Spain and Argentina. I like Spain because of their style of play and Argentina simply because of Messi.
"Spain are the current European champions and it looks little difficult for them to make it a double. Argentina is a pretty talented team and if they get their act together, they will be difficult opponents for any side," Anand said.