Vishy Anand close to victory at world championship candidates event
Leonard Barden
The Guardian, Friday 28 March 2014 14.34 EDT

After staging one of the great comebacks of chess history Vishy Anand is poised for victory at the world championship candidates in Siberia this weekend. The Indian, at 44 the oldest in the tournament, was written off after his poor form of the last few years and the meek way he conceded his crown to Magnus Carlsen in their title series four months ago.

But Anand has played in exemplary style, right from the first round when he used his bishop pair to squeeze an endgame point from the favourite, Levon Aronian.

When Anand won again in round three as Black he was already in a great position in an event where the eight contenders were closely matched and draws predominated. So the Tiger of Chennai could simply halve out and wait for an opportunity for a third win, which came when Veselin Topalov allowed him a favourable queen ending.

In Thursday’s round 12, on the brink of victory, Anand at last wobbled, failing to clinch an overwhelming position against Dmitry Andreikin.

While Anand has reclaimed his best form his two main rivals have disappointed. Aronian has been too variable and Vlad Kramnik has been dogged by oversights, most notably in this week’s puzzle.

The final two candidates rounds can be viewed live and free on the internet this weekend, starting 9am on Saturday and 10am on Sunday. Anand has a tricky game on Saturday when he is Black against Sergey Karjakin. If Russia’s 24-year-old prospect can win, he will be only half a point behind Anand going into the final round and will have the better tie-break.

Leading scores after 12 of the 14 rounds are Anand 7.5, Aronian 6.5, Karjakin and Shak Mamedyarov 6.

Anand’s stellar performance after looking a veteran in decline recalls how Mikhail Botvinnik was trounced in world title matches by Vassily Smyslov in 1957 and Mikhail Tal in 1960 at 47 and 50, then regained his title convincingly a year later.

Could Anand equal Botvinnik’s feat if he takes on Carlsen again in November this year? He has little to lose, and much to gain in terms of historic status. But both Smyslov and Tal were ill before their return matches, in which the well-prepared Botvinnik got flying starts. It is hard to see the supremely fit Carlsen being caught off guard.

Full article here.

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