Can Viswanathan Anand make another comeback today?
Norwegian World No 1 romps to victory in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead, but India has a history of coming back stronger after setbacks in World Championship encounters
Playing true to his style, challenger and World No 1 Magnus Carlsen shot into the lead by outwitting world champion Viswanathan Anand in a thrilling Game 5 of the $2.55 million World Chess Championship at Chennai. Anand now lags behind 2-3 in the 12-match encounter!
Carlsen stuck to his style in Game 5, this time trying to grill the world champion by obtaining a small initiative out of opening and forcing Anand to find the exact moves to float on troubled waters.
Anand, on his part, gave an exhibition of wonderful “active defence” by leaving his weak pawns and activating his pieces to threaten Carlsen’s King. The pieces went on getting reduced by frequent exchanges over the board. However, both the warriors found fantastic moves. Anand was just pushing his King up the board and the World No 1 from Norway was forced to find suitable answers.
World No 4 Hikaru Nakamura of USA joined the action, to the delight of chess enthusiasts on Internet Chess Club. “Naka” — as he is known across the chess world — did not mince his words. When Anand was contemplating his 45th move, Nakamura quipped, “What is there to think? Vishy has to play 45…Ra1. Then it is equal.”
However, Anand chose to play Rc1+ to the horror of spectators watching across the globe.
“Why has Vishy selected this move?” Naka groaned. “Now it is a sick draw!” he added. Naka meant that Anand could still draw but he had to struggle a lot and suffer at the hands of Carlsen. Anand looked worried and was still finding good moves to maintain equilibrium till he blundered with 51…Ke6?.
Nakamura was furious. “Maybe Anand is getting old,” he said before signing off.
Anand has never faced such a fountain of youth in his career. Most of his opponents were his contemporaries. Carlsen is known to grill his opponents by his sheer will to win and his immaculate technique. Anand must be repenting for letting him off the hook in Game 1 and Game 3 when he held the edge.
In his match against Veselin Topalov, Anand lost Game 1 meekly only to come back strongly in Game 2 with a victory. When Boris Gelfand outwitted him at Moscow last year in Game 7, the world champion roared back with a sweet 17-move demolition. Will Anand be able to gather his wits and energy to repeat history by winning Game 6?
The author is a chess mentor and a Dronacharya award winner.