World Championship: Campaign for Anand

10/27/2013 – The banner on the side of the campaign truck says it all. It is cruising Chennai collecting signatures in support of the World Champion, a son of the city. Meanwhile newspapers have been sounding a more optimistic note on his chances against challenger Magnus Carlsen, who is 95 point higher on the rating list. The Times of India reports that GM Abhijeet Gupta forsees Anand triumphing.

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Signature Campaign For Anand's Victory

The New Indian Express which is the media partner for the World Chess Championship from November 7-28 at Chennai started a signature campaign wishing the world champ Viswanathan Anand all the best for the 12-game match. Hundreds of people signed on the board wishing Anand best of luck for the upcoming match against Magnus Carlsen of Norway next month.

Among those who signed the board were the World Championship Director D.V. Sundar (left in brown shirt), V. Hariharan (left middle), Honorary Secretary of the All India Chess Federation, and Vice President of FIDE of Chennai and AICF Chief Executive Officer Bharat Singh Chauhan of Delhi (left in jeans).

The campaign vehicle went around Chennai city collecting signatures wishing Anand luck in the match

Those who had come for business to the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association and the All India Chess Federation were among the early signatories. Sportsmen from other games also stood in line to sign and wish Anand all the best for the match.

Anand and Carlsen was currently in their last phase of training at undisclosed locations with undisclosed trainers. What they are looking at will determine the course and to a large extent the result of the match. What is significant is that Magnus Carlsen was part of the Anand training team of 2008 when the Indian defeated Vladimir Kramnik at Bonn. Many of the leading players are working for either of the players and naming them in any report will only make it speculative. Peter H Nielsen, recent main trainer for Anand and Carlsen has decided to stay away from both camps.

The organisers, Tamil Nadu State Chess Association, are expecting a massive impact for the game in the city. All the seats are expected to be taken for all the days by the time the opening ceremony decides who will take which colour in the first game on November 9 at Hyatt Regency.

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa (above left on the campaign vehicle) will do the lots to decide the colours of the players. Tamil Nadu Government is the sponsor for this mega event which has a budget of Rs. 29 Crores (290 million Rupees = 3.4 million Euros = 4.7 million US Dollars).

The campaign "All The Best Vishy" is going to create greater awareness for the game in the cricket hungry nation. The event will be inaugurated on Nov 7 evening at the Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai. It will only be the fourth time that the world title match is taking place in Asia and the first time in 13 years.


Press reports

"It will be a very intense match and Anand's experience in such events should come in very handy," said Gupta. Anand has played against the likes of Garry Kasparov of Russia his compatriot Anatoly Karpov and more recently against another Russian Vladimir Kramnik, Bulgarian Veselin Topalov and Israeli Boris Gelfand to fight for the world title. The last three matches have been the high point of Anand's career taking him from the category of great players to legends of the game. "Anand has established himself as an all round player, winning the world championship in knockout, match-tournament and matches. Carlsen undoubtedly is the most worthy challenger but one needs nerves of steel for such matches," Gupta said.

Citing the qualification Candidate's tournament that Carlsen won by the skin of the teeth, Gupta said Carlsen can fumble when put under pressure. On the likely outcome, the latest Arjuna awardee was quite candid: "It will be a very close affair surely. I guess the first half will be important from Anand's perspective, Carlsen will be full of energy in those games and mostly will come down guns blazing. In the second half it won't be so simple for Carlsen, that's why matches are so difficult," Gupta noted.


While the top players are hardly intimidated by rating differences, for the layman the gap between ratings (95) seems too much in favour of Carlsen. The 2870 (highest ever) rating has come from some phenomenal results and says a lot about Carlsen’s ability to play for a victory in all situations. The stamina, ability to calculate, to play very long games, tiring out opposition, almost hypnotising opponents into making mistakes have been crucial to his stupendous success. And going by current form, the Norwegian holds a definite edge over Anand. It’s almost an intriguing that the five-time world champion Indian starts an underdog against someone half his age.

Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi is probably right in his assertion, “I would trust a coin-toss more than any predictions.”


In the tournament format, you need to be ahead of many opponents; and hence a draw can force you to lag behind in the standings. But in a two-player match, the draw keeps you on an even keel, enhancing its value further. Anand's strategy could well be based on safety-first approach. After winning the Candidates tournament in London earlier this year, Carlsen had said: "The difference is, I'm winning tournaments and Anand is holding on to this title. It will be an interesting clash between these two ideas as to what constitutes the best player in the world."

But Carlsen can't afford to take Anand lightly. Vladimir Kramnik too had questioned the validity of Anand's title through tournament format won in 2007. However, after losing to Anand, his views changed dramatically. "In the last 5-6 years, Anand has made a qualitative leap that has made it possible to consider him one of the great chess players. Perhaps, it doesn't look like that to observers, but when you play against him you sense what a great range he has," Kramnik said.

Links

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