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Anand begins defence of Corus crown

January 09, 2004 19:28 IST

Mind champion Viswanathan Anand, who refutes the saying that 'Nice guys finish last',, takes on a world class field as he attempts defend his Corus Grandmasters' Chess title in the cold and windy city of Wijk Aan Zee in the Netherlands.

The event begins late on January 9 and will end on January 25.

The Indian superstar, who spent a few weeks at home in Chennai besides touring India with his sponsors, NIIT, is back in Holland, where he has thrice won this super Grandmasters' event.

Anand, who turned 34 this December, had a super 2003, winning six titles, including Corus 2003 in nine tournament appearances. Five of his titles came in Rapid chess, while in classical chess, he won Corus, finished second at  Dortmund and tied for third at Linares.

"I look forward to a tough challenge.  I hope that I can defend the title. All the players have a good chance for finishing in the top spot. The one who can keep the rhythm till the end will make the difference," said Anand, the NIIT Brand Ambassador.

The Corus event raises the curtain on the chess calendar year. It is a world class event, with the strongest 14 players participating. This year Garry Kasparov is missing, but on the last couple of seasons, Kasparov has often cut down on his play.

Anand, who is one of the biggest favorites with the crowd, commented, "The worst part of Wijk Aan Zee event are the cold, windy days, but the tournament hall and fans are very warm. The field is varied annually, so it makes it exciting to play the new faces all the time."

The event is special for Anand as it was here that he was invited as the World junior champion back in 1989. Playing in the elite Group A, he won the title.

"Winning it in the first appearance was a very special feeling. It gave me a feeling of having arrived in the chess scene. Especially after my World Junior Crown in 1987, this was the cherry on the top."

Anand became the first Asian to win this prestigious event.

In 1989, Anand shared the title with Zoltan Ribli, Predrag Nikolic and Guyla Sax, while in 1998, he shared it with Vladimir Kramnik.

He won the event outright for the first time in 2003 and hasn't lost his last 59 games played in the event.

Speaking about his off-board activities, Anand commented, "Last year I played in Linares, Monaco, Denmark and in Spain plus a few Bundesliga games. I had very good results in almost all events. In Linares, but for two games, I was very happy with my performance. In Denmark 5.5 out of 6 was a dream
result. Besides chess, we [my wife Aruna and myself] took some vacations. We were in India in May and June. Apart from enjoying the Chennai heat, I did many appearances for my global Sponsor, NIIT, who are one of the world's largest companies in Computer training."

Anand's main challenge is likely to come from Kramnik, who is known for his strong and aggressive play with white and is very solid with black. The only major title to have eluded Kramnik is the Corus, so he will be charged up.

Also in the field is four-time Russian champion, Peter Svidler. Having crossed the 2700 rating barrier in 2003, Peter is in good form and at a high. This event will be another chance for him to show he belongs in the upper crust. His style is uncompromising and 'crowd pleasing' and he is certainly someone to watch out for.

Among others is Peter Leko, currently 24. Starting out as a child prodigy he has been consistently on a rise and a top player from young.

Initially Alexander Morozevich had confirmed but he had to withdraw with flu and is replaced by Vesselin Topalov.

The field for the Category 19 event is: 1 Vladimir Kramnik 2777; 2 Viswanathan Anand 2766; 3 Peter Svidler 2747; 4 Alexei Shirov 2736; 5 Veselin Topalov 2735; 6 Peter Leko 2722; 7 Michael Adams 2720; 8 Evgeny Bareev 2714; 9 Ivan Sokolov 2706; 10 Vladimir Akopian 2693; 11 Viorel Bologan 2679; 12 Zhang Zhong 2644; 13 Loek Van Wely 2617; 14 Jan Timman 2578.


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