Anand’s good show

AP

He may have been pushed to the second spot in the end, but Viswanathan Anand had a memorable outing at the Zurich Challenge in Switzerland recently. For, the former World champion from India won the classical tournament, though he had to be the runner-up to Hikaru Nakamura, overall.

The final table in Zurich was arrived after taking into account the players’ performances both at the classical and rapid events. In the classical tournament, a win is worth two points — it is normally one in chess — and a draw one point (it’s half usually). Nakamura and Anand finished with nine points each. That paved way for the play-off, in which the Japanese-born American triumphed.

Eariler, Anand scored 3.5 points from five rounds in the classical event, half-a-point more than Nakamura. His wins over Levon Aronian and Nakamura proved crucial.

The other players in the fray were Italy’s Fabio Caruana, the top-seed, and the two Russians Vladimir Kramnik and Sergey Karjakin. So, almost the entire elite of world chess were present, minus World champion Magnus Carlsen.

The good show should make Anand feel a lot better after his disastrous outing at the tournament preceding it, the Grenke Chess Classic in Baden-Baden, Germany. There he had lost three games, and with it as many as 15 Elo points. He had finished seventh in a field of eight; his nemesis Carslen was the champion.

Under such circumstances, it was a remarkable comeback by the genial genius from Chennai. He is, of course, known for such comebacks, but it is amazing that he could do it at the age of 45, when most of his rivals are younger by a decade or two.

His performances in Zurich and the London Chess Classic, which he won in convincing style last December, prove that the tiger’s teeth are still quite sharp.

P. K. Ajith Kumar