Viswanathan Anand to headline Tata Steel Chess tourney

The former world champion has agreed to play a tournament in his home country after more than two decades.

Viswanathan Anand says he feels excited playing a tournament in India.   -  AP

Former world champion Viswanathan Anand has agreed to play a tournament in his home country after more than two decades.

Anand will be one of the top draws at the Tata Steel Chess India rapid and blitz tournament which features 11 top-ranked players from around the world. The event will take place here at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations from November 9 to 14.

The USD 40,000 tourney, claimed to be one of the biggest in the country, will feature four players from the top-10 of FIDE rankings, it was announced on Saturday. They include World No. 3 GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, World No. 6 GM Levon Aronian of Armenia and World No. 9 Wesley So of the U.S.A. Japanese-American GM Hikaru Nakamura (World No. 14) and GM Sergey Karjakin of Russia (World No. 15) are the other players in the fray besides Anand, who is ranked 10 among the active players in the world.

Read: Anand conferred with "Order of Friendship" by Russian federation

Other participating players from India include P. Harikrishna (World No. 19), Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (World No. 37), Surya Sekhar Ganguly (World No. 161) and Indian chess prodigies Nihal Sarin and R. Praggnanandhaa.

Having stayed and played tournaments abroad to supplement his high rating all these years, Anand, the five-time world champion, said he felt very excited playing a tournament in India. The reigning world rapid champion believed the tournament could “revitalise” chess in the country by giving its fans the opportunity to see some of the best players of world from close.

‘Very good atmosphere’

Anand felt confident about his compatriots putting up a good show at the 43rd Chess Olympiad, a tourney he is participating in after a gap of 12 years. Commenting on India’s prospects at the Olympiad, which gets underway at Batumi, Georgia from September 23, he said, “I am confident our team will have a very good atmosphere; generally we get along very well together. Even in the camps we have a very good time.”

Talking about his own form, Anand said, “Generally these days my form wobbles a lot more. I have seen it happening to many players. No one is able to keep a kind of stability going on forever. So I am not particularly concerned. You play when you play well, you cannot give your best everywhere.”

Looking ahead to the upcoming world championship duel between the reigning champion Magnus Carlsen, and challenger Fabiano Caruana in London, Anand said he expects a close fight. “It is the closest world championship match in terms of rating. It is a fact that Fabiano has been winning a lot, which means that Carlsen’s confidence about the inevitability of the result is not what it used to be. Nothing is assured anymore, he has to fight,” Anand said.

“For me, neither of them could feel sure of anything. The match could turn any moment and that makes it interesting to follow,” he signed off.