‘Vishy’ Anand is the one who prevailed at this year’s Candidates’ Tournament and has now the honor to be the challenger of Magnus Carlsen in the World Championship duel. Anand is exactly that World Champion who was able to defend his title from 2007 until 2013. Last year, Carlsen literally made his predecessor look old. After being dethroned, Visvanathan Anand honestly talked about his drop in performance and admitted to his shortcomings. In interviews he told us that he had been suffering from sleepless nights and difficulties to concentrate during the period of the tournament and referred to his opponent Carlsen as “almost the worst thing that could have happened to him”.
Anand’s self-confidence had been dented before the World Championship duel, as he had to comply with several bitter defeats in previous tournaments. His stable playing style was set off balance. Ironically, Anand’s weaknesses were Carlsen’s strengths. Anand made mistakes in harmless positioning and ruined all his chances with one fatal move. Mistakes that he would have never made in his early years. After Anand began talking about altered priorities and stated that his life wasn’t evolving only around chess anymore, most expected a silent withdrawal after the lost World Championship duel.
At the Candidates’ Tournament followed the great surprise: Anand stood out with a remarkable performance. Shortly before, the public had even doubted his attendance and, out of the blue, in the first duel against Aronian he showed the world what the ‘Tiger of Madras’ was still capable of. Not only did he appear well prepared, but also physically fitter than a few months before. The tournament became one of his best in years, and more than deserved he secured the victory as the only undefeated player at the event. Respect and recognition were expressed to him after his victory. On the other hand, he earned skepticism and amazement, as the merciless defeat in his home town Chennai is still a matter of discussion in the world of chess.
This November, we can look forward to a new edition of this duel. When Anand fought over the World Championship title for the first time in 1995 in the 107th floor of the World Trade Center, Carlsen was only four years old and had never held a chess piece in his hands. Twenty-one years of training and experience separate the two chess legends. However, this also means twenty-one years of physical and mental age.
One thing is clear: This year’s World Championship will be nerve wrecking. Anand is currently in perfect shape and has made a promising appearance since his last performance. Whether the defeat in 2013 will motivate him to peak in performance or leaves him in paralyzing anxiety when facing Carlsen again remains to be seen.
Even though Magnus Carlsen is in worldwide hype at the moment – many fans wish the sympathetic Indian, who is fluent in numerous languages (including German) and engaged in several social projects, the victory from the bottom of their hearts.
written by Sarah, translated by Birthe