Anand proves age is just a number; in joint lead to find challenger to Carlsen
Win or lose, this man, Viswanathan Anand, is a phenomenon – a legend with a right to be spoken of in the same breath as Bobby Fischer or Kasparov. He has five World titles, in all kinds of formats, and that in a sport dominated by Russians and players from behind the ‘former Iron curtain’.
There is still three more rounds to go in Moscow before Anand can achieve what many in the chess world thought was near impossible – making it to the top and set up a third title clash with Magnus Carlsen. With three games to go, Anand is in joint-lead at 6.5 points with Fabiano Caruana, who was generally believed to be the front-runner to clinch the berth.
On Thursday night, Anand, now 46, played a brilliant game to outwit the tenacious Sergey Karjakin, the co-leader till then. The game lasted 70 moves and even Garry Kasparov, a one-time rival of Anand, was prompted to say, “Vishy was just in a different league altogether in this game!” It was that beautiful an endgame and it also set to rest the notions that age might go against him in this clash where some of his rivals were not even born when he was already a world beater.
It’s only in last few years that players like Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, Italian-American Fabiano Caruana, Japanese-American Hikaru Nakamura and Dutchman Anish Giri, son of a Nepalese father and Russian mother, have emerged. The Russian influence has diminished to the extent that there are only four of them in the Top-20 and only two feature in this Candidates event.