Musicians don’t retire. They stop when there’s no more music in them. There seems to be a similar kind of relationship between the game of Chess and Viswanathan Anand. He is surely certain he still has a lot of chess in him despite not having a great campaign last year, raising numerous questions in the media about his retirement which he gladly denied. Then he went on to shock the whole of the chess world by participating in his first ever Open tournament in 23 years.
A difficult few years
Viswanathan Anand lost his crown that he held so dearly for many years to Norwegian wonder kid Magnus Carlsen in 2013. He again challenged for the title in 2014 but failed to reclaim the title. The year 2015 raised further worries for India’s best bowing out with average performances from numerous Master’s tournaments and the Chess World Cup.
Such performances raised numerous questions from the critics and the rumour mill generated gossip about his possible retirement and suggestions that it is time that someone else now raises the tricolor that Anand held high for all these years.
Viswanathan Anand “Not the Veteran”
Viswanathan Anand first surprised the world by participating at the Gibraltar Chess Congress and then he ended up shocking the world with results that don’t live-up to his reputation. When a former world champion enters a tournament the world expects him to perform and emerge on top every time. The Indian fans have been left in shock with the newsof Anand’s performances at the tournament. But if one looks at his performances from a different point of view, he has performed really well.
For a moment, forget that he is a former world champion or India’s first Grandmaster or the man who put India on the map of dominance in Chess for nearly decades. Let us look at him as someone who has just started his career, after all this tournament is his first in 23 years. Let’s assume he is not a veteran of the game, he’s scored 6.5 points out of a possible 10 seems to be a pretty decent score for an individual.
Road to World Chess Championship 2016
The Gibraltar Chess Congress was a good opportunity for the 44 year-old to regain some lost form and play against individuals from all over the world to help him gear up for the Candidates Tournament 2016.
Viswanathan Anand’s performance may not have been so impressive at the start of 2016 but he stands a big chance at a shot for reclaiming his status as the “King of 64 squares” by winning the Candidates Tournament to be held in Moscow, Russia in March this year. Anand will be one of eight contenders at this year’s Candidates. He faces tough opponents and his form is not much supportive in his endeavour at the time.
The other participants at the Candidates tournament would be Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler from Russia as they finished top two in Chess World Cup 2015, Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura after having finished top two at the FIDE Grand Prix 2014-15, Veselin Topalov and Anish Giri recorded the highest average rating in 2015 and Levon Aronian makes his way in as a wildcard entrant.
The winner of the tournament will go on to challenge the reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen in the World Chess Championship 2016 and given his match play pedigree and his performance in the last qualification cycle one can always hope to see Anand return to a World title match.
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– GM Susan Polgar