Englishman Nigel Short, who challenged Garry Kasparov for the world title in 1993, tells The DNA that there is no spark in Viswanathan Anand’s play and that the world chess championship was disappointing. “There was very cautious and very conservative chess. As a spectacle, it was hugely disappointing,” said Short, adding that a lot of games ended prematurely.
“I understand their primary concern was to win but they were not creating entertainment. You would think, normally, if two people were going at each other hammer and tongs, you would get a bit more action. It was not the case. In one website, the fans were asked what they thought of the match and two-thirds of them said it was boring or very boring. People who love the game were disappointed,” said Short, adding that Anand has become mentally old and this showed in his approach.
“Unlike a lot of people, I didn’t think he was an overwhelming favourite. I expected it to be a lot closer. I still had Anand as the favourite. I thought he had two-thirds chance and Gelfand one-third. It turned out reasonably accurate. Gelfand came pretty close to winning it, although he was written off by a large number of people. It is not that Anand should have crushed Gelfand but there was complete lack of spark in his play. Everything was safety-first. He played middle-age chess.”
Meanwhile, whatever the Englishman thinks of Anand, his triumph back home has enthused in a new spirit into the game. The All India Chess Federation has decided to promote the game by increasing the prize money of many tournaments besides introducing new events, says a report in the Indian Express.
“The AICF will spend Rs 50 lakh more on prize money starting this year. The cash awards to medal winners in Asian and World Championships have been doubled with immediate effect and the National Premier Championships will have a bigger prize purse from next year. The AICF will contribute Rs six lakh while the organizing association will have to ensure the remaining Rs 4 lakh to make it a million rupees championship. In the women’s tournament, the AICF will contribute Rs 3.5 lakh to the existing 2.5 lakh to make it a Rs six lakh prize money event,” says the report.
Another report in The Hindu, the format of National Premier Championships will also be changed from next year. It will be an elite event with only 14 players participating instead of the present 45. The general body also gave its nod for India to stage eight international open tournaments in a year. The first four events are the Parsvnath in Delhi, Chennai Open, Odisha Open and the Mayors Cup in Mumbai. The next four will be in Nagpur, Pune, Gurgaon and Andhra Pradesh.
Revealing the various decisions taken at the meeting, a press release from AICF stated that increased prize money for national championship would be substantial. For example, for under-7 events it would be raised to Rs. 1.5 lakh from the present Rs. 75,000.
As for GM events, it was decided that the AICF would fund Rs. 20 lakh towards prize money — Rs. 12 lakh for men and Rs. 8 lakh for women.
The national championships would have two new events — the national school team chess championship and a national amateur chess championship for players below 2000 Elo rating.