Grand Chess Tour: Last 14 rounds of blitz… I was ecstatic: Anand

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Viswanathan Anand turned the clock back in some style in Croatia. The 51-year-old outplayed several younger, stronger rivals to finish runner-up at the Croatia Grand Chess Tour, which concluded at Zagreb on Sunday. And this was his first tournament in 16 months.

After doing fairly well in the rapid section, the blitz games saw some vintage Anand. The five-time World champion was delighted with the way he finished.

“The last 14 rounds of blitz… I was ecstatic,” Anand told The Hindu over phone from Zagreb on Monday. “I could have easily had another two extra points at least.”

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Among his wins, he said he particularly liked the one against Anton Korobov of Ukraine in the blitz. “I also enjoyed my win with white pieces against Garry Kasparov,” he said. His old rival though had a disastrous outing. The 58-year-old Russian, who has been out of active chess after retiring in 2005, could score just 2.5 points from 18 rounds.

“We were all astonished by Kasparov’s show,” Anand said. “We understood he was rusty; so he was four years ago (at the St. Louis Grand Chess Tour) but then he posted quite a good performance. I think this would motivate him to come back for one big tournament. I feel Garry will not want his last tournament to be like this.”

Next stop

Anand’s next stop on his comeback trail — COVID-19 has kept him off the chessboard since February last year — is Dortmund where he will meet another old Russian rival, Vladmir Kramnik. The 14th and 15th World champions will play a match of No-Castling Chess from Wednesday.

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As the name suggests, the format will not allow the players to castle, in an attempt to take the game away from opening theory. “I think these kinds of variants are entertaining,” he said.

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