After a month’s break, Viswanathan Anand will return to the international chess circuit for the 10th Tal Memorial in Moscow. He will be hoping to gain more rating points as he continues his quest to get back into the top five of the Fide world chess rankings.
The Grandmaster from Chennai, who last played in the Sinquefield Cup 2016 in August, has participated in only three of the 10 editions of the Tal Memorial, a fifth place being his best finish. It is among the few top-level tournaments Anand has never won and he would be hoping to set the record straight. The first round will be played on Monday and the final is on October 6.
The tournament is organised in honour of Mikhail Tal, the eighth world champion and considered the best attacking player of all time. Anand is among the contenders in the 10-player field that includes former world champion Vladimir Kramnik. Others in the fray are Levon Aronian (Armenia), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Peter Svidler (Russia), Boris Gelfand (Israel), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Li Chao (China), Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia) and Evgeny Tomashevsky (Russia).
The classical tournament will be preceded by a blitz tournament, a T20 version of chess, in which players get around five minutes each to complete the game.
Anand, who is on an upswing, has had a mixed season thus far. He started the year on a disastrous note, losing 21 rating points in the Gibraltar Open, his first open tournament in 23 years. He recovered well in Zurich where he tied for the first position with Hikaru Nakamura, and finished joint second with Fabiano Caruana in the World Chess Challengers in Moscow, half a point behind eventual winner Sergey Karjakin.
His only title of the year came in the Leon Chess Masters Rapid Tournament. On the Grand Chess Tour, the 46-year-old finished fourth in Leuven Grand Chess Tour and second in the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis, USA.
The Tal Memorial is a unique tournament because of its setting — it will be played in a museum as part of a project, ‘Chess in Museums’, which the Russian Chess Federation has been implementing since 2012.
This year’s edition will be played at the Museum of Russian Impressionism in Moscow.
Chess is a peculiar game which a lot of people consider an art form and has close links with culture and history. The ‘Chess in Museums’ project is designed to make these links clear to everyone.
The idea of holding a chess tournament in a major cultural institution was first put into practice at the 2012 World Championship Match in Moscow, which took place in the Tretyakov Art Gallery. Since then, besides the Tal Memorial, the Alekhine Memorial super tournament has been held at the Louvre in Paris and at the Russian Museum in St Petersburg. The Russian Chess Championship has been held in museums in Nizhny Novgorod.
The setting won’t be that unique for Anand as two of his World Championship matches have been held in museums – the 2008 match against Kramnik at the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn, while the 2012 clash with Boris Gelfand was organised at the Tretyakov Art Gallery in Moscow.