Thursday, January 30, 2014
Carlsen - Anand again in Zurich
Vishy, Carlsen to square off again
ET Bureau | Jan 29, 2014, 10.47 AM IST
Viswanathan Anand admits he will be under "some pressure" when he takes on Magnus Carlsen at the Zurich Chess Challenge, starting tomorrow.
Anand sharing his thoughts with ET from Switzerland, says "I guess my game (against Magnus) will attract a lot of attention". Anand's season will open with the event.
"I am looking forward to a nice start to 2014," he says of his expectations. The Zurich Chess Challenge (ZCC) will feature six of the absolute best of the chess world, including newly-minted world champion Carlsen, last year's tournament winner Fabiano Caruana and current world # 2 Levon Aronian.
It is "one of the best events of the year," Anand says. The winner will enter the record books, as the Challenge is the strongest tournament in chess history. The average rating of the participants is a stratospheric 2801, making it the first Category 23 tournament. It is a sprint rather than a marathon, with just five rounds of classical chess.
"True, it is a short event, but with blitz and rapid events as well," says Anand. He also points out that "4 out of 6 played in Wijk, so they will be continuing in a way," referring to the just-concluded Tata Steel event held in Wijk aan Zee. Anand was tracking that event and has words of praise for the winner, Aronian who scored a tremendous 8 point of 11 rounds.
"It was a very impressive run by Levon," he says. Anand points out with a smile that Aronian actually blew the last game, but still won with a "1.5 point margin after the loss".
The Challenge, held in the opulent surroundings of Hotel Savoy, is the brainchild of Russian magnate Oleg Skvortsov. A keen amateur chess player, Skvortsov made his fortune in gems and pulls out all stops in the events that he organises. The tournament has a unique format, the six contestants play against each other once in classical and then play with the colours reversed in rapid. What is more, the rapid tournament is weighed down, i.e. a win in rapid only brings you half the points as in classical.
However, if two rivals are closely matched, then a player could make up for that by going all out in the rapid. "Well first things first," says Anand when presented with such a scenario. This kind of hybrid formats is perhaps the wave of the future, as organisers try to add masala to staid events. Of the other players, defending champion Fabiano Caruana will be keen to make a good impression after a patchy show in Wijk.
Anand, of course, is aware of the resonance Zurich has in the chess world. "I have indeed read the book," he says referring to the famous 1953 tournament held in Zurich, and the book written about it by former world champion challenger David Bronstein. Of course, for two of the players, Anand and Aronian, the event will have a resonance beyond the event.
In March, the Candidates tournament in Khanty-Mansisyk will be held to decide the challenger to Carlsen. Still, when they take on the rivals in the ballroom of the Savoy, Siberia will be far from their minds.