World Champion Viswanathan Anand will start his title defence from Black pieces against “Mozart of Chess” challenger Magnus Carlsen at Chennai this Saturday. The 2.55 million USD match will begin at a five star hotel in a specially erected sound-proof glass cubicle (Nov 8-28) which will insulate the warriors from outside disturbance.
As Romeo asks in William Shakespeare’s famous drama — “what’s in a name? Rose will smell as sweet as rose whatever you call it.” Magnus Carlsen, who specialises in winning from White as well Black, will surely ask, “what’s in a colour? A win will be win whether achieved from White or Black”. However Anand’s camp would have preferred to start the match with Anand playing White purely for psychological reasons.
The colour hardly makes much difference; albeit psychologically. They anyway have to play six games with White and six with Black pieces. However, at this highest level, White gives a one a chance to play with some pressure. Most of the top Grandmasters prefer to play with White pieces because they have a slight pull right from the beginning.
But former World Championship candidate Mark Taimanov of Russia had a preference for Black. Former World Champion Vasily Smyslov said about Taimanov, “He is concert pianist! No wonder he plays both White and Black with equal ease.”
There were few World Champions, who played the long matches with the single-minded strategy of playing safe with Black and waiting for the opponent to overstretch. They would take all their chances from White pieces. However Mikhail Tal, Boris Spassky, Bobby Fischer and last but not the least — Garry Kasparov believed in going for their opponents’ throat from both the colours.
Anand was considered an uncrowned champion of speed chess! Be it rapid (15 minutes) or Blitz (5 minutes each). Anand was feared because of his sharp attacking moves fired like bullets. And when Magnus Carlsen won the World Blitz Championship ahead of Anand, the chess world took notice of the teenager! Now the question in the minds of chess lovers is — will Anand be able to stop Magnus the magnificent?
Both Anand and Magnus have been playing each other for the last eight to nine years. They have played classical, rapid and blitz formats. Interestingly both have won seven games each from White pieces but hold your breath — Anand has defeated Magnus eight times but lost to him only four times from Black pieces!
Not only me but all Anand fans will go to bed with this positive fact in their minds. The first game will begin at 3pm with challenger Magnus Carlsen making the first move with White pieces.
The author is a chess master Dronacharya awardee.