Carlsen Relishing Different Challenge
By R Srinivasa Raghavan Published: 26th December 2015 05:00 AM
Last Updated: 26th December 2015 05:00 AM

CHENNAI: Top players taking part in Open tournaments is the new trend in the chess world. Closed round-robin tournaments used to be the norm for elite players, but that’s changing now! It started with former world champion Vladimir Kramnik taking part in last year’s Qatar Masters. Another world champion, Veselin Topalov, and USA No 1 Hikaru Nakamura followed suit by competing in the Gibraltar Masters at the start of 2015. This year’s ongoing Qatar Masters got the biggest catch, when they roped in world champion and World No 1 Magnus Carlsen. Dabbling with the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg has made him the most visible chess player since Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov.

True to his reputation, Carlsen recovered from a first round wobble to forge ahead in Doha after five rounds. Going into the rest day on Friday, Carlsen (4.5) leads by half a point over a group of eight players. The 25-year-old will be looking to consolidate his lead when he runs into American No 3 Wesley No in the next round on Saturday.

Having accomplished many firsts in the cerebral game, Carlsen probably relishes a different challenge, even though he runs the risk of losing rating points if he fails to maintain his high level of play.

The world’s highest-rated player, who normally matches wits with the likes of Viswanathan Anand, Kramnik, Levon Aronian and Anish Giri, had this to say on competing against lower-rated players who are three hundred points below him: “It’s not easy, as there are so many underrated players, who are also gifted tactically. They play without fear, without any prejudice. That’s always difficult to face.”

Giri occupies joint second spot along with So, Sergey Karjakin, Kramnik, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Dariusz Swiercz, Yu Yangyi and Surya Shekhar Ganguly on four points. Ganguly has been the top performer among Indians. The six-time National champion has remained undefeated.

Stunning Show by Vignesh, Shardul

The stirring run of Indians NR Vignesh and Shardul Gagare has been nothing short of sensational. 102nd seed Vignesh had the scalp of top Chinese player Wei Yi and has a performance rating of 2809, which is the best among Indians. Staying unbeaten, the 17-year-old has secured 3.5 points, which is remarkable in a field comprising more than 70 GMs.


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