Viswanathan Anand to play tour­na­ment in In­dia af­ter 25 years

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTSPORTSMAX - HT Correspondent

KOLKATA: Viswanathan Anand will be part of a heavy­weight field of 11, in­clud­ing four cur­rently in the world’s top 10, at the first Tata Steel Chess In­dia, to be held here from Novem­ber 9-14. To be played in the rapid and blitz for­mats, the $40,000 prize money com­pe­ti­tion will also have Shakhri­yar Mam­e­d­yarov (world No. 3), Levon Aro­nian (world No. 6), Wes­ley So (world No. 9) apart from Anand who is now ranked No 10 and is the reign­ing world cham­pion in rapid chess.

Af­ter the Goodricke Open in Kolkata in 1993, this is the first time that Anand is play­ing a tour­na­ment in In­dia. Proof of how much chess has grown in the coun­try in those 25 years lies in the fact that if at 48, Anand is the old­est player in the fray, at 13, Ramesh­babu Prag­gnanand­haa, would be the youngest with 14-year-old Ni­hal Sarin be­ing the sec­ond youngest. Among those Prag­gnanand­haa, the world’s sec­ond youngest GM, will play here is Rus­sian GM Sergey Kar­jakin who is the youngest grand­mas­ter.

This seems like a season of come­backs for Anand. Be­fore he re­turns to tour­na­ment play in In­dia, Anand will also end a 12-year wait to be part of the In­dia team for the Chess Olympiad that be­gins in Ge­or­gia on Satur­day. “There’s no spe­cific rea­son why I didn’t play this long but I was open to the idea and am glad the fed­er­a­tion (All In­dia Chess Fed­er­a­tion) was co­op­er­a­tive,” said Anand, who will be part of a strong team com­pris­ing P Harikr­ishna, Vidith Gu­jrati, B Ad­hiban and K Sasiki­ran.

“We have got a very strong team and but In­dia’s per­for­mance has made life very hard for us. The bar has been set very high. I didn’t like Turin (2006 Olympiad) but we were un­lucky in Calvia (Spain, 2004) in some six or seven games. Hope­fully, we will have good re­sults this time,” said Anand. In­dia were third in 2014 and fourth in 2016.

Anand ac­cepted that he will go into the Olympiad on the back of some ‘wob­bly’ form but said he isn’t par­tic­u­larly con­cerned. “Most suf­fer from that at some pe­riod… bar­ring per­haps (Mag­nus) Carlsen and (Fabi­ano) Caru­ana.”

Carlsen and Caru­ana, the world’s top two play­ers, will vie for the world cham­pi­onship in Lon­don; “we can fol­low that match while we play here,” said Anand. “Fabi­ano has won so many games that Mag­nus’s con­fi­dence in the in­evitabil­ity of the re­sult may not be there any­more. Both will go at each other and we should see an open match. We will also per­haps need more con­fes­sion booths,” said Anand. A con­fes­sion booth is where play­ers share their thoughts to a live au­di­ence dur­ing games.

The Tata Steel In­dia field: Shakhri­yar Mam­e­d­yarov (Aze), Levon Aro­nian (Arm), Wes­ley So, Viswanathan Anand, Sergey Kar­jakin, Hikaru Nakamura, Pen­tala Harikr­ishna, Surya Sekhar Gan­guly, Vidit Gu­jrathi, Ni­hal Sarin, Ramesh­babu Prag­gnanand­haa.


Viswanathan Anand dur­ing the launch of 'Tata Steel Chess In­dia' in Kolkata on Satur­day.

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