Anand sets Carlsen off as a favorite

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Viswanathan Anand has participated in 10 World Chess Championships since 1995 and won five. This time the 51-year-old is traveling for the championship, but in a different role. One without the pressure and intense preparation that comes with it as a player.

Anand will be one of the official commentators for the 2021 World Cup match between champion Magnus Carlsen and challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi from Russia from November 24th to December 16th.

“I’ll see it from another side! I will be in a world championship with no tension or pressure. In the end I am a chess fan and will therefore be happy in a chess competition, ”said Anand The Hindu here on Wednesday.

Carlsen’s form, Anand observed, has been very impressive last year (2020-21). “When you see the two tournaments in Norway (Norway Chess 2020 & 2021) and the one in Wijk Aan Zee (Tata Steel Tournament 2020) and the other tour events, he is continuously playing well despite a hectic schedule. He’s trying very hard to get in shape for the World Cup, ”said Anand.

Judging by his current form, Anand said Carlsen will be the clear favorite. “Even if there were moments when he looked shaky, that is again more of a perception than a reality. Because people have unrealistic expectations of him. But when you see the consistency in the tournaments he won, we still have to call him the favorite, ”he said.

According to Anand, Nepomniachtchi still has some catching up to do when it comes to fitness. “Because he had to do this match training for the first time. And I think he took a lot more time. But he did some reasonable performances. He’s strong enough to be a good rival, ”he said.

Anand emphasized that this time around 14 games plus tiebreaks (since the 2008 edition, a 12-game format with tiebreaks) will weigh on both players, saying: “Two additional games will make it a little more exhausting. You are now playing three games before a rest day instead of two games as before. Longer games give both players more chances to come back after setbacks, ”he added.


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