Battle won, a war beckons Anand | india | Hindustan Times
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Battle won, a war beckons Anand

india Updated: Apr 23, 2010 23:23 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Viswanathan Anand has won the battle, he now faces a war on the chess board.

The reigning world champion got a reprieve despite opposition from the Bulgarian chess establishment but is in for more trouble not only on the board but also off it during his 12-game match for the World Chess Championship title against challenger Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, which starts at the Central Military Club in Sofia on Saturday.

Topalov's team, which is virtually organising the match, started the mind games well in advance and will continue to pressurise Anand and his team, as they did against Gata Kamsky, who Topalov beat to qualify to play the Indian.

Though FIDE granted him another day of rest, which is not enough to recover from the trudge across Europe by road because of the volcanic ash cloud that shut down the airspace in Europe, Anand will have to get ready for what could be the biggest battle of his career.

For the first time in his illustrious career, spanning over 20 years, Anand, who has won the title in three different formats - knockout in 2000, tournament in 2007 and match play in 2008, is in the enemy's lair for a battle which, if he wins, will not only extend his reign as world champion but will also put him in the august company of champions who have defended the world crown twice.

Till now, the World Championship battles have been played at neutral venues or those picked by the champion.

This time, Anand will have to give his best to maintain the hold on the crown that he retained by beating Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in Bonn in 2008. Both Anand and Topalov are aggressive players and love to get into tactical battles. But the Bulgarian plays a more risky style, sacrificing pieces for initiative while Anand is pragmatic in his approach. While some experts give Anand a slight edge because of his experience and the manner in which he defeated Kramnik, Topalov is the favourite because of home support and the quality of his games in recent times.

At stake, apart from the crown, is a prize fund of euro 2 million (Rs 11.83 crore approx) of which the winner will get euro 1.2 million (Rs 7.10 crore approx). It will be a best-of-12 games and the player first to reach 6.5 points will win the title.

The games will be played with classical time control and each player will get two hours to complete 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and 15 minutes for the remaining game. Extra time of 30 seconds will be added for each move from the 61st move.