Qualification: Runner-up of previous World Championship
FIDE Rating: 2762
Most Played Opening (W/B): Sicilian, Sicilian
*(Till Zurich Chess Challenge) Career Stats: Wins- 1111, Draws- 1467, Loses- 384
Viswanathan Anand can be said to have perhaps the shortest route for qualifying at the Candidates Tournament Moscow by losing the World Championship. He makes his way as the runner-up of the World Championship 2014. But make no mistake; his route is also one of the most difficult. He attained qualification to the World Championship in 2007 and won, he has braced the World Championship each time since then. But his place in the 2016 World Championship is under severe threat.
India’s top ranked Chess player, the erstwhile “King of 64 Squares” Viswanathan Anand is once again preparing for what happens to be the battle of the year. He will play seven of the best Chess players the world has produced for a place to reclaim his status as the World Chess Champion. A lot of people had counted the Indian Grandmaster out from winning the Candidates Tournament in 2014 and there he was proving all his critics wrong. However, he failed to defeat the reigning Champion Magnus Carlsen at the time.
He features as an underdog against some of the brightest prospects in the world of Chess in Moscow. His performances have not spoken much in the past year, but the frustration of not having performed as well as he’d want can certainly become a prime motivating factor for the veteran champion.
How Viswanathan Anand fared since 1st January 2015?
Total games: 135
His 32.59% win record since 2015 may not be the most glorious in his career but it clearly implies that even at his worse he will win one in every three games he plays. A draw percentage of 50.37% makes it unlikely that his competitors would have an easy going against the veteran. These statistics put together, Anand has walked out with points in 83% of the games he has played in 2015 and if he can maintain a similar percentage he might as well qualify for the World Championship.
An important factor in deciding whether Anand makes it through would be whether he can create the winning chances of his own rather than relying on his opponent’s mistakes. While, the former World Champion’s slow paced game might make the task difficult if other candidates go aggressive picking a good amount of points during the first half of the tournament.
Chances against Magnus Carlsen
India would be praying for Viswanathan Anand to win the Candidates Tournament and if he does not, it would mean for the first time in eight years that the Madras Tiger would not be involved in the World Championship match.
Despite his experience and maturity, there are no assurances that he will be able to win the World Championship this time either. But, he will certainly cause the most significant problems to the Norwegian Grandmaster. Vishy Anand was dismal during the 2013 World Championship losing his throne (6.5-3.5); in 2014 he managed to put Carlsen under tremendous pressure but still lost at the end (6.5-4.5). There was improvement in Anand’s game and last year at Norway Chess Anand came out with an impressive victory over the Norwegian and is certainly competing on even terms with the World Champion Magnus Carlsen. If Viswanathan Anand makes it through the Candidates this time, he may even manage to dethrone Magnus Carlsen.