Grand Master Viswanathan Anand was bewildered on Friday evening when talking to the press after he lost his world chess champion’s title to World No 1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway. “I have to analyse what went wrong,” said the outgoing world champion.
Though Magnus, the Mozart of Chess, was ruling the world, everyone in India (probably Anand too) thought that the lack of match practice could trouble the World No 1, and that Anand, with his superior experience and knowledge, would win. However, Magnus’ talent and will to win each and every game succeeded.
Anand has no time to relax now! He has confirmed his participation in the London Chess Classic — a rapid tournament among the elite of the world. The event begins on December 17 giving Anand just three weeks to prepare for the rapid format. Once he returns from London, Anand will have to decide whether he wants to participate in the Candidates Tournament at Khanti Mansik (Russia) in April next year.
The top eight players will play a double round robin to decide a challenger to the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Anand has to first adjust mentally to the fact that he is no more world champion. This is not something he is used too and could, in fact, have taken it for granted.
He had lost to Ivanchuk in the World Championship knockout series in 2004 but no one took that format seriously. Anand even called it a “lottery”. However Anand will come back strongly as he has done in the past, after losing to Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov respectively.
Anand’s predecessors took the loss of titles in different ways. Dr Emmanuel Lasker became a world famous bridge player, but also kept playing a few chess tournaments. The first world champion Wilhem Steinitz died in poverty having mishandled his finances.
Cuban diplomat Jose Roul Capablanca is the only world champion, who came back strongly to win a gold medal in a Chess Olympiad ahead of his conqueror Dr Alekhine. Anand can also take the example of Mikhail Botvinnik, who won several return matches to regain his lost crown.
The tournament in London will show us whether Anand has resurrected himself from the dark thoughts and regained his winning streak. He may feel a little free after losing his crown and come back strongly as Kasparov did!
The author is a chess mentor and Dronacharya awardee