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An early look-ahead to Anand-Kramnik

March 12, 2008

Vishy won his second consecutive Linares after coasting through the second half of the tournament with 6 straight draws to finish. Carlsen, who people are predicting to move up to 4/5 in the world in the latest rankings, finished half a point behind for his second straight second place in Linares. Combined with his win in Corus in January, his performances are certainly noteworthy and perhaps a bit scary to the rest of the field.

There’s a number of important classical tournaments coming up in the next few months – the newly formed Grand Prix, MTel, Dortmund etc. But I am already starting to look ahead to the clash of the titans in October. It is gearing up to be a classic (though I wish the match were doubled in length, to 24 games). While the general consensus is that Kramnik is the stronger match player after his win over Kasparov, I maintain its not as wide a gap as many would have you believe. Kramnik did lose a match to Shirov before his match with Kasparov, yet managed to be the guy to play him for the world title. His 2 title defence matches (has it been only 2 in 7 years?) were tight affairs with a draw with Leko and a tiebreak with Topalov (though to be fair, in that match, he forfeited one game because of Toiletgate). Anand hasn’t played any matches recently but bar his match with Kasparov, has an extremely good match record throughout his career. Even in that ill-fated match with Kasparov, he went blow-for-blow with him and even recorded the first win of the match in the 9th game before losing a flurry of games.

In his book on his best games, Anand says he learnt a lot in his preparation for that world championship match and that the experience would serve him well in any future matches for the world title. I am really curious as to his choice of seconds for the match. I guess Peter Heine Nielsen, his regular second, would be a part of the team. I wonder if he would get any of the Indian crop to help him out – I guess he would – a subset of Sasikiran Krishnan, Pentala Harikrishna and Surya Shekhar Ganguly would be my guess. I would really like him to include a Carlsen or Aronian as part of his team but I doubt it would happen. I’m not sure he would like to work with who he would see as his prime competition over the next few years to have an insight into his preparations.

The more I write about it, the more curious I get…

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