Anand could lose precious points after two poor results
Hari Hara Nandanan, TNN | Dec 13, 2011, 10.55PM IST

CHENNAI: Three strong tournaments and three forgettable results. Viswanathan Anand would term it as disaster but the fact is that his career had similar pattern whenever he was during his run-up to a World championship match. Starting from Bilbao, Anand has had below-par performances that could prove costly when the world chess federation (FIDE) ratings are announced for January 2012.

Anand, who has managed to stay above 2800-Elo rating in the last two years, would probably go under the mark as a result of these three results and what could hurt him more would be the plunge that he would take in the rankings. He was No. 1 or 2 for over a year and the next list could well see him either in the No. 3 or No. 4 spot.

“The whole season …(starting with Bilbao) has been a disaster, no getting around it. I don’t know why that is. I never got going,” admitted Anand after the mediocre London Chess Classic performance where he finished fifth in a field of nine.

Magnus Carlsen had retained his No. 1 position ever since he overtook Anand in early 2011, his results getting only better with every passing month. Very soon, he would be challenging the all-time high of 2851 that Gary Kasparov recorded at his peak in 1999-2000. A phenomenal achievement considering that he has not yet played a world championship title match.

But then Carlsen did not play a title match because he did not qualify; it was only because he did not want to. “The only times that I think about the world championship is when people ask me about it. Otherwise I just don’t think about it at all. It’s so much more interesting to focus on tournaments I’m playing right now. For me right now the London Chess Classic is much more interesting than the world championship,” he said during the London event last week.

Compare and contrast this with Anand’s results. The current world champion was a great tournament player in the 1990s and early 2000s when he was not rated so much in matches. The world championship also had a tournament format since mid-1990s, making way for matches again in 2008. Anand’s priorities also turned around the same year when he trounced Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in a 12-game match in Bonn. Kramnik had the reputation of a good match player then as he had dethroned Kasparov in a long match.

With the jolt that he is likely to take in rating and ranking ahead of his match against Boris Gelfand of Israel, Anand needs to find a solution to his poor tournament form. Vladimir Kramnik has completed a very good year getting back to 2800 while Levon Aronian of Armenia has always been on the move to displace Anand from the No. 2 spot.

The Tal and London tournaments together could cost Anand more than 10 points and that will take him down to almost 2800 or even below. But then, the Indian has only one target in his mind, that is Boris Gelfand!


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