HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Mumbai, March 14, 2014
This one is for all those who had written Viswanathan Anand off in the Candidates Tournament, the eight-player round-robin event in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, from which the challenger to world champion Magnus Carlsen will emerge.
Anand on Thursday proved that writing him off on the basis of his insipid performance in the World Championship final against Carlsen and subsequent events would be foolhardy.
Don't write him off
The former world champion started the 2014 Candidates Tournament with a scintillating victory, beating Levon Aronian of Armenia, the favourite on form and rating, in the first game of the 14-round tournament.
Playing with white pieces, Anand opted for the Ruy Lopez Opening to which Aronian replied with Closed Defence, the main line in this case, and came out victorious in 47 moves.
Anand played attacking and precise chess and did not commit mistakes. From the game it seems Aronian may have underestimated Anand following his recent travails and paid the penalty. Anand did get a minor advantage in the middle game and then squeezed out a win, capitalising on inaccurate moves by his opponent.
Aronian resigned on the 47th move in a situation impossible to defend.
Though it is only the first round and a lot many games are to be played, what would make Anand and his camp happier is that the Indian Grandmaster was the lone winner in this round as the other games ended in tame draws.
Russian former world champion Vladimir Kramnik drew with young compatriot Dmitry Andreikin in 32 moves with black pieces, Sergey Karjakin with Peter Svidler in 23 moves in another all-Russian clash while another former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria held Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan in 36 moves with black pieces.
Kramnik and Topalov would not rue their draw much as it came with black pieces. However, a winning start is a sure-shot morale booster and only Anand can enjoy that.