While statistics favour Anand, recent form is on Carlsen&’s side
press trust of india
Chennai, 25 Ocotber
The clash itself is still a good two weeks away but the buzz is already palpable for the World Chess Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and world number one Magnus Carlsen, who is half the Indian legend’s age. Given the statistics, Anand holds the advantage. The two have played 29 games so far in the Classical format with Anand winning six and Carlsen clinching three while the remaining 20 ending in draws. The November 9 to 28 match can be best described by a famous line — An unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.
Carlsen is the unstoppable force, having broken all records, scaled one peak after the other like no one else and won almost everything except the World championship at a young age of just 22 years. Anand, on the other hand, has been the immovable object at the top of World Chess for nearly 22 years. It was in 1991-92 that the Tiger from Madras won the Reggio Emilia tournament ahead of Soviet greats such as Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov and announced his arrival in a fitting manner in the elite chess circles. Carlsen was one year and one month old then. Anand’s perseverance, ability to adapt to new challenges and creativity has helped him stay on top for all these years. This has resulted in five World Championship victories coming in knockout, match tournament, and three one-on-one matches, making him not only the undisputed champion of the world but also one of the legends of the game. Carlsen grew up watching Anand at the top and in some of the games that the Indian won between them, he was quite severe. Carlsen seems to have learned all the lessons well. Psychologically especially and this explains his results against Anand in the last few years. The Norwegian has won all his three games post 2009 and has beaten Anand in the last two encounters. While the top players are hardly intimidated by rating differences, for the layman the gap between ratings (95) seems too much in favour of Carlsen.
The 2870 (highest ever) rating has come from some phenomenal results and says a lot about Carlsen’s ability to play for a victory in all situations. The stamina, ability to calculate, to play very long games, tiring out opposition, almost hypnotising opponents into making mistakes have been crucial to his stupendous success.
And going by current form, the Norwegian holds a definite edge over Anand. It’s almost an intriguing that the five-time world champion Indian starts an underdog against someone half his age.
A few months back in South Africa, Garry Kasparov shared a hearty laugh drawing similarities to his victory over Anatoly Karpov in the 80s. However, Kasparov then won several matches and tournaments against (mostly) the younger generation. Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi is probably right in his assertion, "I would trust a coin-toss more than any predictions."