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Friends turn rivals for a piece of 'world' history

other Updated: May 10, 2012 01:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Having clinched the World Chess Championship title in Mexico in 2007, Viswanathan Anand has defended his crown twice - against Vladimir Kramnik at Bonn in 2008 and two years later against Veselin Topalov at Sofia, Bulgaria.

The 42-year-old from Chennai will face his toughest challenge when he embarks on another battle in Moscow from Friday to retain the crown, and bag the lion's share of the $2.50 million prize fund. Sitting across the table for the 12-game clash will be Belarus-born Israeli challenger Boris Gelfand, a lightweight compared to Anand's past opponents.

Anand has, till now, played the likes of Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Alexei Shirov, Vladimir Kramnik and Topalov, all of whom, except Shirov, were at the top of the ranking ladder when the Indian played them.

Gelfand, in comparison, is ranked 20th in the world, and though he is the same age as Anand, the Israeli has not enjoyed the same success. For the first time in the history of chess, the World Championship final involves two players who are currently not the best in the world.

However, Gelfand, a positional player who rarely gets into tricky situations and when he does, has the knack of extricating himself with gutsy play.

Anand has slipped from his perch and is currently ranked fourth. However, when it comes to classical chess and one-on-one matches, the Indian is the best in the world because of the quality of his preparation.