Viswanathan Anand to play in Chess League, likely for Olympiad

Updated on Nov 11, 2017 10:33 PM IST

Viswanathan Anand, India’s five-time world chess champion, will play in the global PRO Chess League which will also feature Norway’s world champion Magnus Carlsen.

Viswanathan Anand will take part in the Pro Chess League.(HT Photo)
Viswanathan Anand will take part in the Pro Chess League.(HT Photo)
Hindustan Times, Pune/Mumbai | ByHT Correspondents

Having a five-time world champion in the team is an inspiration for teammates. Mumbai Movers team won’t need extra motivation in the second edition of the Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League, the world’s first online chess event starting in January, as they will have GM Viswanathan Anand.

The league was started last year and boasts of the world’s top six players, including world champion Magnus Carlsen, who represents Norway Gnomes.

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Anand will represent an Indian team for the first time. He has been involved in the German Chess League, Bundesliga, for years and has been instrumental in his club Baden Baden winning the title many times.

Mumbai Movers finished third among 38 international teams in the qualifiers that finished 10 days back. Only eight teams qualify for the 32-team tournament.

“It’s great to be part of an Indian team and I am extremely proud. The team is balanced with a lot of ambitious guys like (GM) Vidit (Gujrathi) and myself,” Anand was quoted as saying in a release by Mumbai Movers.

Four Indian teams — Delhi Dynamites, Hyderabad Hawks and Amravati Yodhas are the others — will feature this year. Movers and Dynamites had made it to the playoffs last year, losing to Gnomes.

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Each team – the league will be played on the server -- will have four players, nominated by the captain based on form, ranking and availability. They will play rapid games against a rival team. They can play from home or a team camp. It runs from January to March with one game played every Wednesday night.

Anand said: “A lot of new events are happening in chess and it is good to try them out. The league is a very interesting tournament that has taken the best of chess’ sporting qualities. The speed and use of technology is a good platform to provide a lot of entertainment to spectators around the world.”

Mumbai Movers are a formidable team with Anand, Vidit Gujrathi (ranked in the world’s top 40), and seasoned GM Abhijit Kunte in their ranks.

Anand for Chess Olympiad

In Pune, Anand said he could play in next year’s Chess Olympiad, to be held in Batumi, Georgia. He is not among the eight players in the Candidates tournament. The winner will challenge Carlsen next year.

“I am currently focusing on playing several rapid Swiss tournaments, but I could play in the Olympiad next year,” he said.

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Anand was in Pune to inaugurate his Viswanathan Anand Chess Academy in Kharadi locality.

Anand has rarely played the Olympiad. He didn’t play between 1994-2002, but returned in 2004. The last time he took part was in 2006. India have won just one bronze, in 2014.

Anand praised Gujrathi, who is from Nashik, as a next great. Gujrathi held Carlsen to a nail-biting draw in the Isle of Man Chess Open last month.

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