Anand to star in Zurich Challenge
Zurich (Switzerland) : Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand will be back on familiar terrain when he takes on elite opposition in the Zurich Chess Challenge that gets underway here.
After a forgettable outing in the just-concluded Gibraltar International, Anand will be back in action to take on Hikaru Nakamura of United States, Levon Aronian of Armenia, Anish Giri of Holland, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and old rival Alexei Shirov of Latvia.
Having dominated this event last year except for the final tie-break game against overall winner Nakamura, Anand will hope for an encore here and will definitely like to put the memories of Gibraltar behind him.
It may recalled that the Indian ace went out of top 10 in world rankings for the first time in 25 years after a below-par show in Gibraltar.
Anand is known to make comebacks and the most exceptional was his victory at the last Candidates’ tournament in 2013.
Ahead of the Candidates tournament at Moscow in less than a month’s time, this event will serve as a prelude with as many as four candidates in the fray out of eight.
Nakamura, Aronian, Giri are the other players who will feature in the Candidates too and an improved performance will give Anand a necessary boost for the big challenge.
The time control has taken a big shift as the classical format this year will be played with just 40 minutes on the clock with 10 seconds edition for each player.
After the initial round-robin under 40-minutes per game, the players will change colours and play a blitz tournament to determine the overall winner. The rider is that in the Classical-Rapid format there are two points for a win and one for a draw while in the blitz its normal one point for a win and half for a draw.
Anand had won the Classical format last year and Nakamura managed to catch up with him after the blitz got over. There was a tie-break game thereafter that Nakamura had won.
The American displayed some great form to win the Gibraltar for the second time in a row and definitely starts as a big favourite especially with his superior skills in blitz chess.
Kramnik is the current world number two and is a favourite on ratings.
Giri did not do very well in the last Tata Steel tournament in his home turf and he is the other player who will look forward to make amends. Aronian has been in good form and should be fighting for the podium while Shirov gets a chance to prove himself in elite circles once more.
The Zurich Chess Challenge promises to be an exciting affair for the chess buffs with a new innovation in the time control and for Anand it will be another test of time.