Viswanathan Anand points to Tal Rapid win to show Riyadh wasn’t one-off

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Viswanathan Anand points to Tal Rapid win to show Riyadh wasn’t one-off

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SportsCafe Desk


Viswanathan Anand has answered his critics, who were quick to judge his time was over after a bad 2017, pointing to the Tal Rapid feat and stating that the Riyadh win was not a one-time thing. Anand also shared his memory of legendary Latvian grandmaster Mikhail Tal, whom he had met back in 1988.

Anand’s recent win in the Tal Rapid has taken him to the World No. 3 rank in the live ratings list with 2822.2 points. The ratings are led by World Champion Magnus Carlsen at the moment. Winning to back-to-back tournaments has helped the Indian legend regain the sharpness that was missing last year. Though Anand failed to capitalize on his brilliant form on Monday in the Blitz, he is now confident he will have a good season ahead.

“I had a bad run of results in Rapids last year. I am happy that I peaked in Riyadh this time as it was the world championships. There is always a doubt associated with that because you can do well once but is that a trend. Here the format was changing - a round robin with strong players in the fray - so I see the second result (in Tal Memorial) as a confirmation that Riyadh win was just not a one-off,” said Anand, reported TOI.

“I needed a result like Riyadh to believe I could do it. If I prepare well and stay really focused like I did in the last two attempts, then it can go very well,” Anand added. 

Anand faced Alexander Grischuk in Moscow in Tal Memorial final, whom he had previously beaten in the penultimate round of Riyadh. And the dramatic manner in which the final few moves were played out had the viewers stunned. The Russian grandmaster was seen left shaking his head in disbelief after he made a huge mistake in his 26th move as Anand’s combination, involving a knight and rook sacrifice, allowed him to press home the advantage. 

Later Anand sympathized with his opponent and explained the rookie mistake Grischuk made.

“I have had a few players who joked with me on that move and Anish Giri was the one who said ‘I was just playing for tricks’. I wasn’t, because I genuinely believed my position was good at that time. It was unfortunate for Grischuk because he thought his king was escaping and suddenly realized that he had walked into a mate straight away after my move. 

“That’s a terrible moment for a chess player when you realize that things have gone horribly wrong. The fact that it was in the video allowed people to appreciate the strong emotions we have but he was literally shaking his head that he had missed the obvious tactic,” said Anand.

Anand has been on the international chess circuit for years now and is among the very few to have met Latvian legend Mikhail Tal. The 48-year-old also decided to throw light on the first time he had met Tal in Brussels.

“I actually was a co-commentator with him during an event in Brussels back in 1988. That’s the first time we shared the stage together and I got to know him better. What struck me about Tal was how approachable he was. The other facet I noticed about him was the fact that he was simply addicted to chess. The game in which I beat him in 1989 is a special memory for me and I was thrilled that I played a good game that day. But I have to acknowledge that he was already in very bad health by that point,” said Anand.

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