Adaptability is Magnus Carlsen’s main strength: Viswanathan Anand
Prasad RS | TNN | Nov 4, 2016, 07.04 PM IST

CHENNAI: When the FIDE World Chess Championship final featuring defending champion Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin commences from November 11 in New York, it will be a departure from the past. For the first time in about a decade, India’s Viswanathan Anand won’t feature in a final. However, he isn’t someone who will be losing sleep over it.

“It’s funny because I don’t remember much of the year (2006) when I didn’t play the final. From 2007, I have been involved in each of the games (in the final). This time I will be watching it from outside. Maybe, when the match starts, I may miss it,” Anand told TOI on Friday.

The last few years have seen the steady rise of Carlsen. After snatching the World champion’s crown from Anand in 2013, Carlsen retained it by getting the better of the five-time world champ once again a year later. The two-time defending champion has mastered the art of seizing the key moments in any encounter, a trait that has held him in good stead. Sergey Karjakin, Carlsen’s rival in the final, was recently quoted as saying that Carlsen had “practically no weaknesses”.

Elucidating on what makes Carlsen the player he is, Anand pointed out, “What I find most impressive about Carlsen is his adaptability. Carlsen is one of the most flexible players in world chess today, and it is difficult to pin him down. Whatever position you put him in, Carlsen is able to come out of it and that’s the reason he has been so successful.”

Not surprisingly, when Carlsen and Karjakin face off in the 12-round clash next week, the odds appear to be in favour of the former. “Carlsen has got the better of Karjakin in recent times. The scales are heavily tilted towards Carlsen. Karjakin is a player in the classical mould and works very hard at his game and he will have his task cut out,” Anand mentioned.
So, does Karjakin stand a chance? Anand believes Karjakin could certainly make a fight of it. “I think the easiest way (for Karjakin) to put Carlsen under pressure will be by creating a series of winning chances. If Karjakin can neutralize Carlsen’s ability to win long games, then we have a match on our hands,” observed Anand.

The young guns are hogging all the limelight, and Anand doesn’t mind imbibing a thing or two from them. “Thanks to the influence of computers, the current generations of players are more flexible and less dogmatic. They are open to suggestions, embrace change and that’s something one can always learn from them,” mentioned the 46-year-old.

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