Anand – Kramnik World Championship starts

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More info about Kramnik – Anand

The hide and seek game is over. Now is the time for Petroff, Ruy Lopez (Berlin), Catalan opening, Queen’s Gambit Declined, and even Sicilian and Slav on the board. Understandably, for both Anand and Kramnik, this title has immense value. Though Kramnik had beaten Garry Kasparov in 2000, he wasn’t the deserving challenger due to Anand’s refusal to play and Kramnik’s loss to Alexei Shirov.

Since then, Kramnik has retained his title by beating Peter Leko and Veselin Topalov. Though he showed his greatness by beating Topalov despite forfeiting one game due to ‘Toiletgate’, Kramnik is now taking on perhaps the most complete player of all time.

For Anand, this is a great opportunity to silence critics and showcase his killer instinct and strength in matchplay format. He is playing a head-to-head match for the world crown after 13 long years. He has won many super titles and many world crowns in between, they were played in all-play-all, knock-out, rapid and blitz format. Beating Kramnik in match format will be considered a better achievement, at least by the purists. Though Anand is a vegetarian, he would love to taste blood in this case.

Anand and Kramnik have prepared to such an extent for this format that they have dropped Elo points and have slipped to world No. 5 and 6 in rankings respectively. Understandably, they don’t belong there. However, in an attempt to ‘hide’ their ‘brain-cooked bombs’ for this match, they have played openings in Dortmund, Moscow, Bilbao and Mainz they are not really associated with.

For example, Anand has played Scotch defence against Levon Aronian and lost badly. It’s quite clear that he didn’t want to show his lines in Petroff which Kramnik is likely to play.

All these preparations may not necessarily guarantee a quality match. For, if both players take a cautious stand, there will be many draws and therein lies the possible drawback of this format. In multi-player round-robin World championship, if two players are over-cautious and take draws, the other field goes ahead of them by winning their games.

Another unique aspect of this match is the fact that both players had attained the Mount Everest of Elo rating (2800) at some point in their careers. In that sense, having the players of this strength is first of its kind in World championship match contest.

On paper, Kramnik starts as favourite due to his experience in matchplay, steadiness, solidity and shrewdness. That suits Anand to the T as he is not burdened with the tag of favourite.

Understandably, whoever draws the first blood would enjoy the better position. But trailing in the match brings out the best and worst in players. And that would lead to volatile positions on the board, psychological fights and fast heartbeats. Just pray that boring draws stay away.

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