Viswanathan Anand to make Pro Chess League debut
Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand will be making his debut in the second edition of the Pro Chess League, the world’s first online chess league, against Oslo Trolls of Norway on Wednesday giving a fillip to the hopes of his team, Mumbai Movers, who are already doing well and placed second in the standings.
The league comprises eight teams each bunched into four Divisions — Eastern, Central, Atlantic and Pacific. Each team fields four players in a match and each member has to play against all the four member of the opposing team. Adding a twist in the mix is the concept of Super Saturdays and Super Sundays when the teams play against teams from other divisions. The first leg of the event, which kicked off on January 18, is played on round robin basis with the top four teams from each division advancing to the next stage. Matches are played every Wednesday.
After three rounds, Mumbai Movers (42 points) are currently placed second behind Armenia Eagles (48) in the eight-team Eastern Division.
Anand, who was involved with the Tata Steel Masters till a few days back, will be joining the Mumbai Movers in the fourth round of the competition. His entry will ensure that almost all top players are playing in the Pro-Chess League.
Besides Anand, the Mumbai Movers team will include Swapnil Dhopade (2532), Mohd Nubairshah Shaikh (2410) and Sameer Kathmale (2255) so as to maintain an average rating of 2500. Oslo Trolls have nominated Johannes Haug (2379), Lars Oskar Hauge (2433), Frode Urkedal (2570) and Benjamin Gledura (2600) for Wednesday’s encounter.
Mumbai Movers owner Rishi Gupta is pleased as punch with his team’s performance so far. “Anand’s presence immediately lifts up the spirit and boosts the morale and we have an excellent chance to figure in the top four which is the qualifying mark for the next stage”.
Mumbai Movers were held to 8-8 draw by Indian team Delhi Dynamites in the first match while in the second, they defeated Norway Gnomes, a team headed by world champion Magnus Carlsen, with an 8.5-7.5 score.
In the third round, Mumbai had to once again settle for a draw against Estonia Horses (8-8). In the Super Sunday Matches against the other teams they tallied 17.5/32 to score the vital one point.
Anand, who had a dream run in December as he won the World Rapid Championship, bagged a bronze in World Blitz Championship and followed that up with another good showing at the Tata Steel Chess in January, is looking forward to his first appearance in Pro Chess League.
“The format is interesting and exciting and I have always experimented with various formats. Also the fact that I knew Rishi Gupta and his family’s association with chess made it easier to play for Mumbai Movers,” Anand was quoted as saying in a release by the team.
Abhijit Kunte has been holding the fort for Mumbai Movers with 6.5/11 performance while Diptayan Ghosh has, in 20 outings, tallied 11 points, the maximum by any Mumbai player. Raunak Sadhwani, all of 13, stole the thunder with a superb 6/8 score on Sunday while another talented teenager Abhimanyu Puranik has contributed an impressive 7/12.