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Indians are a long shot in Candidates: Viswanathan Anand

Source: PTI
April 01, 2024 17:45 IST
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IMAGE: Vishwanathan Anand said the three Indians participating are a long shot from winning the title, but should keep going and grab onto the opportunities. Photograph: Vishwanathan Anand/X

Giving prominence to experience over youthful exuberance, five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand feels the three Indian participants remain far from winning the Candidates chess title, saying they "should first settle into the tournament."

The tournament, which will determine the challenger for the next World Championship, will be held in Toronto from April 3-22.

The immensely talented R Praggnanandhaa, D Gukesh and Vidit Gujrathi are the three Indians competing in the meet's open category.


"The Indians are a long shot. If they can keep the tournament going that's good enough. If a late opportunity presents itself, they can grab it. They should first settle into the tournament and try to play good games. Let the big decisions come later," said Anand in a webcast published on a popular chess portal.

The Indian stalwart was referring to those who have played at this level before. And it is only the first time that all the three have qualified and Anand singled out Gujrathi as someone who could fit on both sides - being experienced as well as a debutante.

The opinion is not much divided among the world elite as Anand also felt, like many others, that Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura of the United States are the clear favourites while terming Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia and Alireja Firouza of France as the unpredictable players of the tournament.

According to Grandmaster N Srinath, one of the country's top trainers, Praggnanandhaa has the best chance among Indians but picked Fabiano Caruana of United States as the clear favourite for the title.

Just a few days ahead of the elite event world number one and former world champion Magnus Carlsen said both Caruana and Nakamura have "excellent chances".

Carlsen thought that Nepomniachtchi could do well too. The Russian has been a World Championship challenger in the last two attempts but, apart from that, he does not have any great result to boot.

Despite that, according to Carlsen, "Ian has enough pedigree to be among the top contender."

The winner of the Candidates will qualify to challenge Ding Liren of China in the next World Championship match. Among Indians, Carlsen singled out Praggnanandhaa as the player to watch out for.

"Pragg has his weak moments but he is also very stable psychologically, he will do well," he said.

The Norwegian also mentioned Gujrathi's capabilities to win the strongest tournament of his career. Vidit has improved quite a lot especially from a psychological point.

"He did poorly at Prague, which is not a good sign, but he has the capacity to win," Carlsen noted.

The eight-player double round-robin event will have 14 games in all and the player with the maximum score will qualify for the world championship battle.

It may be recalled that the race to the world championship was opened in 2022 after Carlsen refused to take part in it having won the title five times in a row.

Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi had played the match then, with the Chinese player coming out on top.

From the Indian perspective, Anand qualified for the Candidates for the first time in the early 1990s and since then he was part of every World Championship cycle till 2014, when he lost his last world title match to Carlsen.

Grandmasters Koneru Humpy and R Vaishali are the two Indians participating in the tournament's ladies section.

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