Anand in a tough field in Zurich Chess Challenge
After trailing the leader Fabiano Caruana by a full point margin with just two rounds to come, many had given up hopes but Anand scored two excellent victories to pip the Italian to the post in Grenke Classic at Baden-Baden in Germany.
The expectation from the world champion are high in this tougher competition wherein Russian Vladimir Kramnik starts as the rating favourite. Anand will be the second seed ahead of Caruana and last world championship challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel.
The four-player tournament will be played on a double round-robin basis and there will be just six rounds in all.
The time control will be Classical with two hours for the first 40 moves, one for the next twenty and 15 minutes with an additional 30 seconds increment after every move till the end of the game.
For Vladimir Kramnik the tournament is a curtain raiser to his campaign for the next world championship. Boris Gelfand is in similar shoes as for him and Kramnik this is the last serious tournament before the candidates’ tournament in March at London which will decide Anand’s challenger in the next world championship later this year.
Kramnik has been in sublime form off late and will start the London meet as the second seed behind Magnus Carlsen of Norway while Gelfand will need to be at his best to make an impression in an elite tournament.
Fabiano Caruana is one player who is licking his wounds. The year started badly for the young Italian as he suffered a massive rating fall in the Tata Steel Chess tournament in January and then his full point lead was blown away at the Grenke Classic. Yet, with his deep preparation he is always the one to watch out for against tougher opponents.
The field is so closely matched that even the pundits are refusing to predict the winner here. Anand has regained his magical touch, Kramnik is playing well generally, Fabiano is hungry for success and Gelfand is always a tough nut to crack. Form over the next one week will be the key to success it seems.
The victory at the Grenke Classic might have served a confidence booster but Anand could not get going in the blitz tournament. Caruana won it scoring five points out of six while Kramnik finished second on four points. Anand and Gelfnad finished tied third with just 1.5 points each.