November 06, 2013 19:02

3 Reasons Why Viswanathan Anand Will Defend His Title

Editor's Note: This is the second of two special world championship preview pieces - take a look at the previous one by GM Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway here. GM Parimarjan Negi tells us why he believes Vishy Anand will defend his title successfully.

Having opinions powered by the omniscient presence of chess engines, most fans are in a hurry to make up their minds regarding the World Championship. But these computer assessments often hide a bigger picture – especially the style of the players, which is crucial in a direct match!

The clinical, and at times monotonous, style of Magnus reminds me of another contemporary champion – Sebastian Vettel. The Formula One German driver continues to win race after race, sometimes even without overtaking a single car! Similarly, the Norwegian regularly steers the game away from complications that he cannot control. But in a "one on one" setting, will Vishy let him get away with this?


A young Parimarjan happily admits to have started playing chess because of Anand

1. It's not the same Anand you saw (and got bored of) in the last two matches!

While some may argue that the old Vishy, the one who was lightning sharp and buzzing with tactics, is lost in the past, this might just be a bit too premature to assume! It is true that in the last two matches the Madras Tiger assumed a much less aggressive stance, just being solid and sometimes boring – but it was exactly what he needed to win against Topalov and Gelfand! 

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Now it's a new challenge, and it's obvious that in a long battle of stamina, and long drawish endgames, Magnus will emerge the World Champion. So Vishy has made painstaking efforts to get back to a highly confrontational, and double-edged style. Didn't notice? That's probably because as Vishy attempts to replicate his early years, his age has been showing, and occasional brilliancies have been overshadowed by disastrous blunders.

But all that has just been building up toward these two weeks in Chennai, and he has had enough time to iron out these creases from his game. Much fitter – he has been reported to have lost over 13 pounds - Vishy is ready to play a young man's game once again!

2. The Team

For years now, Vishy has been preparing for his World Championships in the little German town of Bad Soden – with a closely-knit group of seconds, advisors and friends. While a couple of his seconds are no longer in his team, it is still an extremely efficient and well-oiled success machine! The seconds clearly believe in him, and are willing to go the extra mile during the match to provide him with the best opening armory in the world. Never underestimate the role of having such a system in place! While the theoretical benefits are obvious, the psychological comfort is perhaps even more crucial.

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Carlsen on the other hand has been known to prefer preparing by himself, and with extremely cunning preparation, he has managed to fox his opponents rather often. But a match preparation is very different from a tournament. Can he really adjust to, and completely trust, a bunch of grandmasters with whom he doesn't share such a rapport?

3. The Stakes

In such high-profile matchups, it is obvious that both sides are extremely motivated and ready to give their best. Yet, who can deliver that final extra push that might just change everything? For Vishy, losing the match will be like a death sentence to his career, and there isn't anything greater to inspire a champion like him! Magnus, on the other hand, is at the peak of his domination, and might not feel the same desperation to succeed.


Once voted as "most likely to fill Anand's shoes", the grown up Pari makes the case for his countryman to defend the title...


Stil not convinced? Don't forget about Caissa! The goddess of chess is known to keep tabs on every player – and with all those last moment tournament victories, and especially the finish in the London Candidates, Magnus has been raking in a debt. Perhaps it's time for her to set the balance straight again?

And don't forget the great odds you can get by betting for Vishy! Time to make some money?

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I hope you enjoyed my preview, and I hope that you are looking forward to this match with the same anticipation of all of India.

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Editors's picture
Author: Editors


Anonymous's picture

Sorry, not a convicing argument at all by Negi, given that Vishy is the underdog. It would have been more logical to argue on Vishy's strong points and how he steers his match games into his strong areas that he can do only in match situations and not in tournaments. Most people are judging Vishy's chances on his recent tournament performances, especially against Magnus and Negi makes no attempt to thwart that. Well, good luck!

Thomas Oliver's picture

Do you really expect Negi (assuming he is helping Anand) to give details of their match preparation? Such as "we prepared 10 killing novelties in the Sicilian Najdorf, two or three of them will decide the match!".
He is already _much_ more specific than Jon Ludvig Hammer - if he has more to reveal, then only after the match.

Sigmund Freud's picture

Thomas..........we have an appointment.......

Magnus Rulez!'s picture

Maybe Thomas has a picture of Magnus Carlsen on a dart board and he throws darts at it. LOL

Ruben alias S5 's picture

Wow that sounds like Voodoo!

frenchfriez's picture

LoL :) anand - alekhine + capablanca - carlsen :) (by cacity @ CB :)

Ruben alias S5 's picture

Sigmund, I am afraid that Thomas has no open mind for a cure.

Greco's picture


Barthod's picture

No. You have and appointment.

Calvin Amari's picture

Again, I don’t know why seconds are commenting (and this piece displays far more substance, and likely more misdirection, than Hammer’s), but I gather that Negi may be a bit irrepressible. I loved, for example, his prior witty article that began:

“Disappointing most of the world, and both the players, Chennai managed to clinch the 2013 World Championship by bidding a million dollars less than Paris. Justifying the decision, a FIDE spokesperson explained that money is not the only important issue to consider when awarding such prestigious events. “Paris was too mainstream and chic, we had to keep with the tradition of venues like Libya, Khanty Mansyisk, Tromso etc. After all we are the guardians of the international image of chess – we can’t let it be changed just because one player is getting too popular”’.

As far as Negi’s comments in the present piece focusing on Anand dusting off his prior sharp style of play, it rings a bit hollow. Negi states that this style of play was shelved in the last championship match because it was ill-suited to his opponent, Gelfand. Quite the contrary. I believe that if Anand was capable of his older playing style, it would have been the perfect foil against Gelfand’s style of play and abilities. Negi characterizes Magnus as a boring grinder. I suspect that the Anand camp instead understands that, over the course of the match, Magnus, if he plays to his usual standards, can markedly out-calculate Anand in tactical play. If the Anand camp truly is counting on deploying Anand’s old style of play, this strategy can be based only on a high-risk strategy that match pressure and the venue will preclude Magnus from performing at his usual strength. It is far more likely, however, that the Anand camp is substantially relying on the same deep opening preparation that has carried Anand in the last three title matches. There is another reason why this is likely to be so: Anand no doubt estimates that it is highly unlikely that Carlsen’s camp has even attempted to replicate Team-Anand’s now well established deep preparation methods. After all, that is not the approach that has gotten Magnus to where his is. Hence, one of the key questions in this match will be how this characteristic Anand-camp preparation can be tweaked to face an opponent who will try to sidestep prepared lines to the extent possible rather than playing for an early advantage.

Anonymous's picture

Thomas, no one has asked him to reveal insights into their prep. He signed up to do this write up and my point was it isnt convincing at all. To present the Aronian's game and say that "You dont know Vishy" is not an argument. I am least bit bothered about what Hammer wrote. To me it is about whether Negi had made any good arguments. And he didnt.

Thomas Oliver's picture

Frankly, as you consider Anand the underdog (fair enough), which "good arguments" (if any) could convince you? In that respect, Hammer's task is easier - all he had to do is repeat what was already mentioned several times. IMO his article could have been ghost-written (not saying that's the case, only that it is a possibility) by a 'random' strong club player - everything including the game notes. Or much of it is copy-paste-edit from other sources.

I wonder about the 'story' behind these articles. Here I agree with Calvin Amari (it happens ...) that it's pretty odd to have opinions by the players' seconds (unclear if Negi is part of team Anand or not). Did Chessvibes/ solicit these pieces, rather than (Chessvibes before the candidates event) opinions by other strong(er) players? Maybe - I speculate, half in jest - Peter Doggers asked Hammer "can you give three reasons why Carlsen will win the match?", and Hammer complied in writing.

Indeed it seems that team Carlsen is more keen on media attention, and then team Anand was asked for and saw the need for a reaction? Else it would again have been "Anand doesn't talk to media". If that's the case, Negi didn't "sign up" (at least not actively), but was picked and signed up for his witty writing style? But he wouldn't want to spend hours to days on such an article, still it took more effort (including the game notes at least for Anand-Fressinet) than Hammer's piece.

Anonymous's picture

"Team Carlsen is more keen on media attention and then team Anand was asked for and saw" bla bla etc etc baaad Team Carlsen hahaha he's at it again :)

Magnus Rulez!'s picture

Perhaps Thomas is mentally disturbed? Does he have a voodoo doll of Magnus that he sticks pins in? LOL

Tarjei's picture

"Indeed it seems that team Carlsen is more keen on media attention, and then team Anand was asked for and saw the need for a reaction?"

You're kidding, right?

the real S3's picture

Tarjei, everyone knows team Carlsen is fond of media attention. You are pretending not to know, right?

Raj's picture

I think Team Carlsen is more on media attention. May be their strategy to highlight that he is the best challenger right now. These things used work in olden days, but I doubt on it now a days as people count purely on performance. Like if he loses now it will backfire. More annoying thing is though his fan's fanatical comments. Yes he is good. But over doing it everywhere in the comments is irritating.

Real Thomas Oliver's picture

I am half-kidding, but I do believe that team Carlsen is more keen on media coverage ("establish the brandname Magnus Carlsen", that's nothing less and nothing more than a quote from Espen Agdestein).

I seriously wonder about the 'story' behind these two stories: it isn't or wasn't Chessvibes style to have such obviously biased pieces. Maybe it is style?

arkan's picture

I agree.

Make no mistake, Carlsen will obliterate Anand. In a few days we will see the true Carlsen in his greatest form beat Anand by a large margin.

They are just not on the same level anymore; Carlsen already has evolved far beyond Anand's level and will crush him like any GM would crush an amateur

RG13's picture

Two things speak for themselves:

1. Carlsen's record against Anand since becoming world # 1

2. The three to one odds against Anand keeping his title.

If you don't think that the first is predictive then use the second to make a lot of money.

Anonymous's picture

very light , very very light

Human Counter's picture


Rob's picture

Kramnik is the only one who really knows how to get promising positions against Carlsen. In some games Carlsen was really dead, but could save with luck, self torture and fighting spirit. If Anand has created with Kramnik a match plan, he has chances! Kramnik is still a little bit superior in chess knowledge.

Human Counter's picture

What you refer to as "luck", I'd call it "skill"

Septimus's picture

I have to disagree. I feel Anand is a more complete player than Kramnik.

Kraken's picture

@Septimus Why do you think that?

Magnus kid's picture


You seem to forget Luke Mcshane always gets Magnus in trouble in their games.

Morley's picture

Points #2 and #3 make sense, but they apply equally to Carlsen. He wants to be World Champion very badly, this is clear from his attitude, interviews, etc. He is going to put all his effort into this.

Carlsen also has a team put together, and has been preparing like crazy.. Besides, some of the members of Anand's team that worked so well in the past are absent this time around: Kasimdzhanov and Peter Heine Nielsen.

I don't buy point #1. That win over Aronian (though beautiful) stood out partially because Anand hadn't beaten a top 10 player in over a year prior. In fact, he had a negative score in classical chess over the course of 2012, so the win over Aronian came as a huge relief to Vishy's fans. Nor has Anand won a game like it since. He has lost 8 games since then, and won 13 ... so the Aronian win hardly seems indicative of a "new, improved" Anand that is a killer in double-edged positions.

And finally, opening preparation against Carlsen just might not be the way to go. He goes out of book too early, and is content to shuffle around for 30 moves in an even middlegame. I highly doubt he will be caught in prepared lines like Aronian.

Anonymous's picture

until now, Anand always won many games in the worldchampionship matches, i do not see why this would change.

And look how he is able to come back after a defeat !


If he can surprise Carlsen during the first match, we will have some epic battles, which would be the best scenario

also, Carlsen is young but still he got very very nervous and tired at the end of the candidates

Anand saw this !

On the other end, if Carlsen can take Anand to very long end games, that will be it

Leon's picture

It's a World Championship Match. That said, is more than obvious that neither GM Negi or GM Hammer will give us the "real reasons" or aproach that both teams could use to win the match. Magnus,of course,is the favorite for several reasons,age,rating,performances,etc.etc.. But i would not be surprised if Anand retains his title because of experience. Whoever thinks that experience is useless on a WCHmatch doesn't know too much about the history of chess.Those little details like being calm,control of anxiety,to do a variation on the rigth moment,etc.etc. can make the difference.

NN's picture

I don't know if the author really believes this. In particular, the "justification" why Anand might be more motivated than Carlsen seems like a joke to me.

Aditya's picture

Yea, actually I believed that the opposite can help Anand. i.e being in a state where he has nothing to lose. Magnus is not devoid of pressure and nerves; the Candidates Matches showed that. He can stumble if the stakes are too high. In fact most of the games where people overcame Magnus were when they were not in a must win situation; just trying to play good chess and not really playing against the "legend of Carlsen".

Bronkenstein's picture

´...Perhaps it's time for her to set the balance straight again?´ - my favorite part =)

bla's picture

"The clinical, and at times monotonous, style of Magnus..." Strange, that description fits Anand so well...

Magnus Rulez!'s picture

Come on Magnus!

Vitecasse's picture

Speculations...Like Fischer said: " I don't believe in psychology, he did though, I believe in good moves".
Let's see what happens.

Anonymous's picture

Anand has to somehow take Carlsen into very dynamic and unclear positions. That is where his chances are. I think he will do well with white but it is with black pieces that he will come out short. I also agree with Kramnik when he said that Anand is scared of Carlsen. In such a match situation, psychology matters. To go in with a "I dont care, let me blast this kid out" will not work at all. Anand in his german interview did correctly point out that a lot of his time went into studying Carlsen as a personality and his approach to the game. Sounds good, but how do you beat it?

Saji Soman's picture

Anand has a different style in selfmotivating. Before his match with Kraminik, Kraminik insulted him by saying that he lended the crown to Anand. I do belive that this is the sentence which hurt Anand most and he fought like a tiger and proved what he can. Later Kraminik understood that his words become a bumarang to him. Now the same Kramnik says that Anand scare of carlsen. Kramnik knows very well that his words will motivate the world champion. Above all who knows that Kraminik may be in Anand team.

RG13's picture

It seems that against a top opponent that Anand will look for a draw if he doesn't get exactly what he wants out of the opening. In fact, since Anand squeaked past Gelfand, when has he really tried to sweat out a win against a top opponent who he didn't catch in his opening preparation?

Dirk's picture

Anand's pedigree, calculation and experience vs Magnus' positional talent. This will be a clash of fire and Ice.

Jim's picture

Has any non-Indian GM publicly stated they believe Anand will win?

bla's picture


Thomas Oliver's picture

Not that "Anand will win", but in two interviews after the Russian championship Svidler gave him (almost) equal chances in the match. "If I have to prefer one, than still Magnus" - but only by 60-40 or 55-45 (the Google translation is a bit ambiguous to me).
(pointed out to me by Colin McGourty)

SetNoEscapeOn's picture

Personal experience is probably foremost in Peter's mind here. While he just beat Magnus near the close of the Candidates tournament, he has not yet managed to beat Vishy Anand in a classical game in his life.

Thomas Oliver's picture

Svidler being Svidler, this was actually mentioned in the interview (free quotes):
Q What are your predictions for the WCh match? Unlike others, you can fight against Carlsen.
Svidler: "But not against Anand! With me as a yardstick, Vishy would be clear favorite - but that's of course irrelevant.

I trust that Svidler can look 'beyond himself'.

Chess nerd's picture


Jim's picture

I saw his recent interview. However, it seems to me that while he criticizes Carlsen left and right (including the claim that Carlsen doesn't understand endgames), he doesn't outright predict that Anand will win. It's more that he just doesn't respect Carlsen because he's just a young whippersnapper.

Anyway, unless you can source this claim to an explicit statement, I'm not going to count Sveshnikov. The count is still 0.

Anonymous's picture

Sveshnikov has been very negative about Carlsen before, saying that he never will be good enough to compete for the title, that his endgame is very weak etc. Lots of just quite stupid claims.

Anonymous's picture

Sveshnikov is also probably the greatest example of building a carreer on a very narrow, extremely well researched opening repertoire. The opposite of Carlsen in that respect.

RG13's picture

It will probably be terrible for chess if Carlsen loses. Because that will mean that chess fans everywhere will have to finally admit that it is possible that the term 'best' must have a bifurcated meaning. There is the best tournament player (which probably necessarily means the number 1 ranked player) and then there is the best MATCH player.

I am not even sure that Petrosian was ever the best tournament player - but he did win the World Title in a match.


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