Editor's Note: This is the second of two special world championship preview pieces - take a look at yesterday's piece by GM Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway here. Published as "News" to keep our regularly featured article content on the homepage, here GM Parimarjan Negi tells us why he believes Vishy Anand will defend his title successfully.
Having opinions powered by the omniscient presence of chess engines, most fans are in a hurry to make up their minds regarding the World Championship. But these computer assessments often hide a bigger picture – especially the style of the players, which is crucial in a direct match!
The clinical, and at times monotonous, style of Magnus reminds me of another contemporary champion – Sebastian Vettel. The Formula One German driver continues to win race after race, sometimes even without overtaking a single car! Similarly, the Norwegian regularly steers the game away from complications that he cannot control. But in a "one on one" setting, will Vishy let him get away with this?
A young Parimarjan happily admits to have started playing chess because of Anand
1. It's not the same Anand you saw (and got bored of) in the last two matches!
While some may argue that the old Vishy, the one who was lightning sharp and buzzing with tactics, is lost in the past, this might just be a bit too premature to assume! It is true that in the last two matches the Madras Tiger assumed a much less aggressive stance, just being solid and sometimes boring – but it was exactly what he needed to win against Topalov and Gelfand!
Now it's a new challenge, and it's obvious that in a long battle of stamina, and long drawish endgames, Magnus will emerge the World Champion. So Vishy has made painstaking efforts to get back to a highly confrontational, and double-edged style. Didn't notice? That's probably because as Vishy attempts to replicate his early years, his age has been showing, and occasional brilliancies have been overshadowed by disastrous blunders.
But all that has just been building up toward these two weeks in Chennai, and he has had enough time to iron out these creases from his game. Much fitter – he has been reported to have lost over 13 pounds - Vishy is ready to play a young man's game once again!
2. The Team
For years now, Vishy has been preparing for his World Championships in the little German town of Bad Soden – with a closely-knit group of seconds, advisors and friends. While a couple of his seconds are no longer in his team, it is still an extremely efficient and well-oiled success machine! The seconds clearly believe in him, and are willing to go the extra mile during the match to provide him with the best opening armory in the world. Never underestimate the role of having such a system in place! While the theoretical benefits are obvious, the psychological comfort is perhaps even more crucial.
Carlsen on the other hand has been known to prefer preparing by himself, and with extremely cunning preparation, he has managed to fox his opponents rather often. But a match preparation is very different from a tournament. Can he really adjust to, and completely trust, a bunch of grandmasters with whom he doesn't share such a rapport?
3. The Stakes
In such high-profile matchups, it is obvious that both sides are extremely motivated and ready to give their best. Yet, who can deliver that final extra push that might just change everything? For Vishy, losing the match will be like a death sentence to his career, and there isn't anything greater to inspire a champion like him! Magnus, on the other hand, is at the peak of his domination, and might not feel the same desperation to succeed.
Once voted as "most likely to fill Anand's shoes", the grown up Pari makes the case for his countryman to defend the title...
Stil not convinced? Don't forget about Caissa! The goddess of chess is known to keep tabs on every player – and with all those last moment tournament victories, and especially the finish in the London Candidates, Magnus has been raking in a debt. Perhaps it's time for her to set the balance straight again?
And don't forget the great odds you can get by betting for Vishy! Time to make some money?
I hope you enjoyed my preview, and I hope that you are looking forward to this match with the same anticipation of all of India.