Rewind 2014: Despite Anand's heartbreak, India's chess players provide solace
While Viswanathan Anand's World Championship loss to Magnus Carlsen was heartbreaking, performance of other Indians provided some cheer for fans of the sport
In what turned out to be a bitter-sweet year for Indian chess, five-time winner Viswanathan Anand lost his bid to regain his title in the Sochi World Championship but the Indian men’s team clinched a historic bronze at 41st Olympiad.
After losing his World Championship crown at Chennai in 2013, this year saw Anand earn the right to challenge world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway again by winning the Candidates tournament at Khanty Mansiysk, Russia in March.
India's Viswanathan Anand. Pic/Getty Images.
His grand comeback in the Candidates — which has one of the strongest fields as eight of the world’s elite compete — reignited hopes of Anand clinching the World Championship title once more, and although the 45-year-old Indian took the fight to the Norwegian, it ended with a heartbreak.
However, besides the Sochi World Championship, it was a good year for Anand as he clinched the Bilbao Final Masters in September, before ending the season on a high with a victory at the London Chess Classic.
Apart from Anand, the young Indian brigade brought some cheers to the country’s chess fraternity with the Indian men’s team comprising SP Sethuraman, Parimarjan Negi and Krishnan Sasikiran, earning India its first ever medal in 41st Chess Olympiad, winning the bronze at Tromso. Sasikiran, who played a stellar role in the team championship, also clinched an individual silver, while Padmini Rout bagged an individual gold in the women’s event at Tromso in August.
The under-16 Indian team, which consisted of Murali Karthikeyan, Aravindh Chithambaram, Kumaran Balaji and Diptayan Ghosh, also bagged the gold medal in the World Youth Chess Olympiad at Gyor in Hungary, finishing ahead of Russia and Iran.
Grandmaster B Adhiban also put up a good show in Asian Continental Chess Championship at Sharjah, clinching a silver medal and also a berth at the next year’s World Chess Cup at Baku, Azerbaijan.
Another Grandmaster and former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta, who missed out on a podium finish after losing in the final round of 16th Dubai International Open, dished out an emphatic show in Tashkent to win the Agzamov memorial International Open in May.
Young Indian Grandmaster Sahaj Grover also came up with a good performance, ending on the top spot in the Durban International Open Chess Tournament in September.
Among others, Murali Karthikeyan finished a creditable third in Abu Dhabi Masters to earn his third and final Grandmaster norm, while young Sayantan Das achieved his maiden Grandmaster norm during an international tournament in Barcelona, Spain.
A good performance at international circuit helped India earn the fifth spot in both the open and women sections in the World Chess Federation (FIDE) ranking in November.