Anand and Kramnik set to resume rivalry, in new format

The 14th and 15th World champions are set to play a series of four games of No-Castling Chess at Dortmund for the Sparkassen Trophy.

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File Photo: Viswanathan Anand (L) and Vladimir Kramnik pictured during a Chess World Championships match in 2008.   -  Getty Images

Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik often produced fascinating chess when they came face to face, until the Russian retired in 2019. That rivalry resumes on Wednesday – albeit in a brand new format.

The 14th and 15th World champions are set to play a series of four games of No-Castling Chess at Dortmund for the Sparkassen Trophy. The format will not allow the players to castle – that is, bringing the king, from the middle of the board, to the safety of a fortress at either of the flanks, by a single move.

Castling is the only move in chess with which you can move two pieces – the king and the rook – at the same time. Now, chess is a very theoretical game with professional players memorising the first few moves (called the opening).

So the real, unpredictable action would begin only after the opening moves are played out. Castling is very much part of the opening moves.

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When you throw castling out of the window, an element of unpredictability comes into the game from early on. A player cannot depend on memorised patterns.

Chess could be more dynamic and exciting. That is what Kramnik felt when he proposed the idea about the new variant in 2019.

Anand, fresh from his stunning show at the Croatia Grand Chess Tour where he belied his age to take the runner-up spot in a strong field, feels No-Castling Chess could be entertaining. “I found the concept fascinating,” he told Sportstar. “And I am looking forward to it.”

So is International Master V. Saravanan. “Since Anand and Kramnik are very creative players, I think it would be interesting,” he said. “Anand is in excellent form and Kramnik, though retired, is still a strong player, I feel.” The match concludes on July 18.

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