Friday December 30, 2011
Tale of two players

A tribute to the current men’s and women’s world chess champs.

THIS year-end may be a fitting time to pay tribute to two chess players who have placed Asia on the world chess map. It’s fitting that they should be the representatives from two of the oldest civilisations in the world – China and India.

The two players are the current holders of the men’s and women’s world chess championship crowns: India’s Viswanathan Anand and China’s Hou Yifan.

Hou’s exploits on the chess board are still fresh in our minds. Only last month, she had defended her world champion title successfully against Humpy Koneru who was rated so much higher than her. Incidentally, Koneru is also from India.

Just three days ago, Hou had helped the China team win the women’s world team chess championship in Turkey.

Hou is the dominant woman chess player in the world today and her rivals have good reason to be afraid of her. Hou is barely 18 years old, yet she has so much experience on the chess board and is presently the women’s world champion. She has many years ahead of her to hone her craft.

I reckon she would continue to have a good grip on the title for a long time to come.

Unlike Hou, Anand is already 42. He is at an age where he is finding it increasingly challenging to play against other top chess grandmasters in the world.

The past four months have been a very trying period for Anand. All of a sudden, he found his form dipping. No longer is his game as feared as before. For a world chess champion, he has discovered to his dismay that it is getting harder to win.

It all started in September with the Chess Grand Slam Masters Final tournament. This six-player top-scale event was arranged as a double round-robin tournament with the first leg in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and the second leg in Bilbao, Spain. The event featured some of the best grandmasters in the world – players like Magnus Carlson, Lev Aronian, Hikaru Nakamura and Vasily Ivanchuk.

Anand finished the event with a 50% score. In the process, six draws peppered his results. He also lost two games which he made up with two wins against the tail-ender. A world champion scoring 50% in tournament play isn’t quite inspiring.

Anand’s woes continued after a break of about a month.

More here.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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