Anand and Kramnik set to resume rivalry

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Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik often produced fascinating chess when they came face-to-face, until the Russian retired in 2019.

That rivalry resumes on Wednesday — albeit in a brand new format.

The 14th and 15th World champions are set to play a series of four games of No-Castling Chess at Dortmund for the Sparkassen Trophy.

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The format will not allow the players to castle — that is, bringing the king, from the middle of the board, to the safety of a fortress at either of the flanks, by a single move.

Castling is the only move in chess with which you can move two pieces — the king and the rook — at the same time. Now, chess is a very theoretical game with professional players memorising the first few moves (called the opening).

Unpredictable

So the real, unpredictable action would begin only after the opening moves are played out.

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Castling is very much part of the opening moves.

When you throw castling out of the window, an element of unpredictability comes into the game from early on. A player cannot depend on memorised patterns.

Chess could be more dynamic and exciting. That is what Kramnik felt when he proposed the idea about the new variant in 2019.

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Entertaining

Anand, fresh from his stunning show at the Croatia Grand Chess Tour where he belied his age to take the runner-up spot in a strong field, feels No-Castling Chess could be entertaining.

“I found the concept fascinating,” he told The Hindu. “And I am looking forward to it.”

So is International Master V. Saravanan. “Since Anand and Kramnik are very creative players, I think it would be interesting,” he said. “Anand is in excellent form and Kramnik, though retired, is still a strong player, I feel.”

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The match concludes on July 18.

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