My most magical day, says Viswanthan Anand after clinching Chess India Blitz title

Updated: Nov 15, 2018, 11:04 IST | PTI | Kolkata

India's Viswanthan Anand hails dream run on final day that helps him beat overnight leader Hikaru Nakamura of USA to clinch Chess India Blitz title

India's Viswanathan Anand (right) and USA's Hikaru Nakamura are all smiles with their chess trophies in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/PTI
India's Viswanathan Anand (right) and USA's Hikaru Nakamura are all smiles with their chess trophies in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/PTI

Legendary Viswanathan Anand stepped it up in grand style to win the inaugural Tata Steel Chess India Blitz Tournament beating overnight leader Hikaru Nakamura in the play-off here yesterday. Placed fourth after the first leg on Tuesday, Anand, 48, had a dream run on the final day to secure six wins and three draws in nine rounds to draw level with the world No 3 American Nakamura to force a play-off.

In the two-round play-off, which was faster than blitz in a reduced time format of a three-minute game, Anand won with white pieces, before drawing with black to seal the issue 1.5-0.5. "I wanted to show the audience what is that I do in some other parts of the world all the time and it was nice to be able to do it here," Anand, who played in Kolkata for the first time after the third Goodricke Open in 1992, said.

"It was just the most magical day for me. I did not have any problem with motivation. It genuinely meant a lot to me to do well here," Anand added. The legend was also playing his first competition in India after being dethroned in the 2013 World Championship by Magnus Carlsen in his hometown.

"It's long been a dream of mine. And we have ticked the other boxes, we have good opens, we have strong players. But the one thing that was lacking was frequent visits by the top players in the world. Now we have that. So it meant a lot to me to be able to play here in India and especially here in Kolkata," Anand who played his first GM tournament here in 1986 said.

In the blitz category, the five-time World Champion of classical chess had last won a bronze medal at the World Championship in December 2017 Riyadh, the same meet where he had also won the rapid title. The American of Japanese descent had a forgettable outing on the final leg where he managed to win four and drew four and suffered a defeat to Pentala Harikrishna in the 11th round. India's youngest Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa, 13, did a huge favour to Anand in the last round when he held Nakamura in the final round.

Playing with whites, Nakamura was on the verge of winning but the wildcard entrant Praggnanandhaa probably displayed the best defensive game of his life to manage a miraculous draw that forced a playoff against Anand. In the play-off, Nakamura took some risks initially, but Anand displayed a solid game with a one up pawn. They had a rook and pawn endgame where Anand sealed the issue with a superb display.

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