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‘Seconds’ as imp as match itself

But what do the ‘seconds’ do? For decades now, creating a good team for preparation of an important match is considered as important as the match itself.

World champion Anand learned this through immense experience he got while playing matches at different levels. Anand first played a world championship candidates match in 1990s and has since then worked with many experts.

His seconds have included players like Swedish Grandmaster Ferdinand Hellers, who doesn’t play competitive chess anymore, and Uzbek Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who won the FIDE world championship in 2004. Garry Kasparov of Russia had one of the best teams in 1980s and till much later as the Russian kept coming out with one opening idea after another stunning his opponents with awesome ease for two decades.

In 1995, Kasparov defeated Anand in game 10, arguably the turning point of the match through a very famous piece of research work that led to a winning endgame with the Russian spending just three minutes on the clock. Apparently, this had tremendous impact as Anand was no match in the second half of that match despite leading after game nine. The role of the seconds is to bring out new ideas, work on them in detail till they are worthy enough to be usable. It is clear that a lot of work and huge assistance from the computer engines is required for such a job and ironically 95 per cent of the work done remains unseen during the match. It’s that deep research paper that doesn’t see the light of the day in its entirety and comes out only in patches, when the situation presents itself.

One of the great ideas that Anand produced against Wang Hao of China during the Tata Steel Chess tournament of 2012 was worked out during the champion’s preparation for the match against Russian Vladimir Kramnik at Bonn in 2008.

The champions do not like to divulge information about the people they work as the guess work becomes easier. If Anand is seen working with the expert of an opening system, it is likely that he wants to play that particular opening very soon.

For the match against Carlsen, Anand retained the services of his two trusted men, the bespectacled Bengal GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Radoslav Wojtaszek of Poland while Sandipan Chanda is the new man in. Carlsen, on the other hand, has always remained mum on the issue.
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