Ageing Anand up for new challenges

Ranked 10th in the world, Anand is part of a field that has the world’s top three players – Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana.

At 47, Anand is the oldest among the chess elite.   -  AP

Viswanathan Anand opens his campaign with white pieces in the $300,000 Sinquefield Cup chess tournament against USA’s Hikaru Nakamura as 10 of the World’s top16 players assemble at Saint Louis, USA, for the elite nine-round contest.

Anand is looking to improve his form ahead of the World Cup which could well offer him a ticket to the next Candidates tournament that identifies the challenger for the next World Championship match.

Ranked 10th in the world, Anand is part of a field that has the world’s top three players – Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana.

Before leaving for St. Loius, Anand took time off his preparations and spoke to Sportstar.  “One focuses more on just getting a good result. That’s what I’ll be trying to do. Also, I’ll be trying to pace myself up since I am playing the classical format before the rapid and blitz events. So till the classical games get over, that’ll be my entire focus."

At 47, Anand is the oldest among the chess elite. So with age, what kind of changes has he brought in, into his preparations ahead of the elite events?

“Nowadays, I try to get there (venue) a few days early since these days jet lag affects you a bit more. Chess-wise, things have got a lot more unpredictable, in the sense that everything is going much faster. There is a lot more to keep track of. You have to prepare a lot. These days, you find yourself working much harder because computers have advanced dramatically. Plus, the youngsters have really come in strongly.

“You pay more attention to the fitness aspect, ahead of an elite event, because the games are far more intense. Nowadays games tend to be longer.  Somehow, it’s very rare that you agree for a draw somewhere. In most tournaments, you play till the end. And that’s our reaction to computer chess. Computers have become so good, that differentiating yourself from the opening preparations is quite hard. So, the focus has shifted to middle and end-game. Again, there are a
lot of new skills you learn.”

The players:

Magnus Carlsen (1, Norway, 2822), 2. Wesley So (2, USA, 28310), 3. Fabiano Caruana (3, USA, 2807), 4. Levon Aronian (5, Armenia, 2799), 5. Hikaru Nakamura (7, USA, 2792), 6. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (8, France, 2789), 7. Viswanathan Anand (10, India, 2783), 8. Sergey Karjakin (12. Rus, 2773), 9. Ian Nepomniachtchi (15, Russia, 2751), 10. Peter Svidler (16, Russia, 2751).

First-round pairings: Anand-Nakamura; Caruana-Carlsen; Lagrave-So; Aronian-Nepomniachtchi; Karjakin-Svidler.