Recent months haven’t been kind to reigning world chess champion Viswanathan Anand, who posted mediocre results in three consecutive tournaments.
His last effort — the London Chess Classic, in which he scored six draws, one loss and just one win — was, in his words and by his standards, “a disaster” not befitting the status of world champion.
No doubt he was distracted, in part, by preparations for an upcoming May title defense against Boris Gelfand in Moscow’s renowned Tretyakov art gallery — a venue that Anand hopes will inspire “ beautiful and artistic chess.”
Based on their past performances in hundreds of games, Anand is an almost a 3-to-2 favorite to win the 12-game match. He also has the advantage over Gelfand of extensive experience in previous world title matches. This will be Gelfand’s first opportunity to play at that level.
But the challenger is a wily and talented veteran who usually finishes first or near first in any tournament he enters.
Both players are steeped in theory and exemplify dynamic and fearless play.
And both are older than 40 — the first pairing of two players that age in a chess title match.