At Khanty Mansyisk in Russia, Viswanathan Anand won the Candidates Chess tournament. The tournament featured 8 top players of the world. The tournament victory gave him a winner’s cheque of 135,000 Euros (equivalent to approximately 1 crore rupees).
The victory carries extra significance for him. With it, he now has earned a match against current world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway for the second year in a row. It will be the first time in more than two decades that same opponents will play for the World title in two successive years. The last time it happened was in the era of two K’s (Kasparov-Karpov). They faced each other in successive finals in the 90s.
When Anand lost to the Norwegian Carlsen at Chennai last year, noise grew for his retirement. Indian Grandmaster was nervy. He couldn’t manage a win in the entire series of games. He seemed to have lost the elan after that humiliation.
After the win in the current tournament, he confessed candidly that he was in no mood to participate in the championship. His conversation with Vladimir Kramnik changed everything. On his insistence, he mustered courage for the tournament.
Friday was rest day for him. On Saturday he came with fresh ideas for the chess board. He played marathon round for more than 6 hours against Karjakin. After 91 moves, both the players agreed for the stalemate. Andreikin beat Aronian and his crown was certain.
In the tournament, he got a good strong start in the beginning. It uplifted his morale. It was very much like his performance at Mexico in 2007, at Linares in 2007 and in 2008. There he won with margin of +3 in 14 rounds. In the entire tournament, he made no mistake in his moves. He faced the bizarre opening of Aronian with grace. Against Mamedyarov, he played superbly. Throughout the tournament, he opened brilliantly and side by side guarded his citadel well.
Other competitors continued to falter which made the life of Indian GM easier. Interestingly, at the end of round 13, he was the only player with a plus (difference in no. of wins and losses) record. In previous editions, there were four players in the positives (two at +4 and two at +2).
He came to the Russian town for the tournament as an underdog. He proved every critic wrong and won the tournament with one round to spare. Round 13 proved very lucky for him. The Indian son is ready to face the midnight su(o)n.