Viswanathan Anand not ready to retire, focuses on winning chess World Cup
Viswanathan Anand has endured a tough 2017. The five-time world champion started the season badly when he finished eighth in the Altibox Norway Chess Open. After a slight improvement in the Zurich Chess tournament, where he finished third, Anand suffered a close defeat to Wesley So in the final of the Leon Chess tournament.
In July, Anand was part of the Leuven tournament and finished in eighth position as reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen won the title. Following the event, while speaking to the official broadcasters, Anand said, “I think I shouldn’t bother playing like this. There’s no point playing chess like this.”
Anand’s statement resulted in several reports which stated that he was hinting retirement. However, in an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times, Anand has clarified that he has no plans of retirement.
“It turned out to be a bad way to phrase the sentence. I was basically angry with myself for the performance I put in. I have clarified 100 times that I am not retiring. The words were basically self criticism for the performance I put in Leuven,” Anand said.
Barring his performance in Zurich and Leon, Anand has lacked consistency. The five-time world champion has said that he had endured rough patches in the past and said he was not too worried.
“In 2015, I had a rough patch for close to six months where I was not performing well. I do not think too much about those results. I have not had a good result for a couple of months this year but there is nothing to worry about. If something lasts for a long time, say over a year, then some thinking needs to be done,” Anand said.
In 2015, Anand had a string of poor results, starting from the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis till the London Chess classic, where he ended up in ninth position.
‘Must do well in Georgia’
Anand’s next major assignment will be the tournament in St Louis, followed by the crucial Chess World Cup in Georgia from September. These two tournaments hold utmost importance for the five-time world champion as he aims to get his world championship contention back on track.
“The work you put in one tournament will reflect in the other tournament. I must perform well in St. Louis. I still have time for Georgia. I must do well in that if I have to secure qualification. The arduous nature of the Chess World Cup gives me opportunities to bounce back,” Anand said.
The Chess World Cup is a lucky charm for Anand, having won in 2000 and 2002 in Shenyang and Hyderabad respectively. The 2017 edition of the tournament will feature 128 players, with two regular games between players. If the games are drawn, then four rapid games are played. In case of a stalemate in rapid games, then two blitz games follow. If there is no winner even after the blitz, then an Armageddon tie-breaker will be played to determine the winner.
The players who enter the final of the Chess World Cup get direct entry into the Candidates, which will determine who plays current world champion Magnus Carlsen in November 2018.
(The author of this article, Siddharth Vishwanathan, is related to Viswanathan Anand.)