Chess India Blitz | Viswanathan Anand gets better of Hikaru Nakamura to win title

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Chess India Blitz | Viswanathan Anand gets better of Hikaru Nakamura to win title

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SportsCafe Desk


Viswanathan Anand managed to beat American chess ace Hikaru Nakamura to clinch the inaugural Tata Steel Chess India Blitz title in Kolkata. The 48-year-old chess legend won the final in the play-off against the overnight leader Nakamura by tying with 12.5 points after 18 games.

Anand managed to register six wins and three draws in the nine rounds played on the final day of the tournament. Anand drew level with the world No 3 and forced a play-off of two rounds to decide the winner of the tournament as he won with white pieces and drew with black to seal the game 1.5-0.5 in the end.

Anand pushed Nakamura on the back foot in the play-offs by playing with an aggressive intent in the decider. Finally, the game was forced in opposite square bishop endgame, where Nakamura was forced to go for a draw and hence Anand was crowned as the champion in the end. 

“I wanted to show the audience what is that I do in some other parts of the world all the time and it was nice to be able to do it here,” Anand told PTI after winning the title.

“It was just the most magical day for me… Here, I did not have any problem with motivation. It genuinely meant a lot to me to do well here. It’s long been a dream of mine. And we have ticked the other boxes, we have good opens, we have strong players. But the one thing that was lacking was frequent visits by the top players in the world. Now we have that. So it meant a lot to me to be able to play here in India and especially here in Kolkata.”

India’s youngest Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa came to the rescue of Anand by holding Nakamura for a draw in the last round. Playing with black pieces, the 13-year-old was dominated by Nakamura till the end but in the dying moments of the round, the youngster pulled up his socks to bring up a good defensive play and the American could manage only a draw in the end. 

“To me what Vishy has done… I am almost certain I won’t be playing chess at that age. So it’s really remarkable and I think especially if you compare (him) against Gary (Kasparov) for example. And I think Vishy did better than he did. It just shows what a truly amazing chess player he is,” Nakamura said.

The Indian legend dominated against all other participants from the host nation and had an average blitz Elo strength of 2587 against P Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi, Surya Shekhar Ganguly and R Pragganandhaa. Anand scored a total of 7.5 points out of eight games against the four Indians but against others, he had an average Elo strength of 2832 with five points in 10 games in the round-robin phase.

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