Viswanathan Anand looks to end year on a high
Archiman Bhaduri | TNN | Dec 24, 2016, 09.58 PM IST

KOLKATA: Viswanathan Anand will look to end the year on a high as he prepares for the World Rapid and Blitz Championships, which will be held in Doha from Monday.

India’s first Grandmaster, who did not have a great year, will definitely fancy his chances in a format where he is regarded as one of all-time greats. However, at 47, Anand is getting no younger and it remains to be seen whether he still has that razor sharp thinking power and execution skills that once gave him the name the ‘Lightning Kid’ during his growing up years.

The tournament, which will feature more than 400 players from some 75 countries, will see almost all leading players of the world vying for the top honours. Anand (Elo 2779), who missed out on a World Championship match this year, will get a chance to lock horns with world champion Magnus Carlsen, who will be looking to defend his rapid title. The top-seeded Norwegian (2853) will face challenge not only from Anand, but France’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2811), Armenia’s Levon Aronian (2795) and USA’s Hikaru Nakamura (2779) are all expected to give him a run for the money in the rapid event. Carlsen’s World Championship challenger Sergey Karjakin (2785) of Russia will get an opportunity to have his revenge in this tournament.

However, the world No. 1 might look for a ‘double’ eyeing the blitz title too in the absence of defending champion Alexander Grischuk of Russia.

Apart from Anand, the Indian contingent will be well-represented by some strong GMs like Vidit Gujrathi (2689), B Adhiban (2666), Surya Sekhar Ganguly (2664), Lalith Babu (2587), Neelotpal Das (2463) and others.
The rapid event will be held over the first three days at a time control of 15 minutes+10 seconds per move to be followed by the blitz event over the next two days at a time control of 3 minutes+2 seconds per move. While the blitz will be a 21-round open championship, the rapid will be a 15-round open event.
In the women’s event, India’s GMs Koneru Humpy (2557) and Donavilla Harika (2543) will have their tasks cut out against strong title contenders like former women’s world champions Russia’s Alexandra Kosteniuk (2555), Bulgaria’s Antoaneta Stefanova (2512), Ukrainian Anna Ushenina (2453), top seed Chinese Wenjun Ju (2580), women’s World Rapid champion of 2014 and women’s World Blitz champion (2010) Russia’s Kateryna Lagno (2530), Women’s World Blitz champion 2014 Anna Muzychuk (2561) of Ukraine and others.
The women’s blitz and rapid will be a 17 and 12-round tournament.
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