Candidate Profile: Viswanathan Anand

Candidate Profile: Viswanathan Anand

| 49 | Chess Players

By GM Robert Hess and IM Teddy Coleman

Peyton Manning retired yesterday after capturing his second Super Bowl on his last legs. Will Vishy Anand, former world champion and titan of chess for nearly three decades earn the same storybook ending?  

There’s nothing Vishy hasn’t already accomplished in his lengthy career. He was the FIDE world champion from 2000-2002 and the unified world champion from 2007-2013, until he lost the title to Magnus Carlsen.

He came up short again in a close rematch in 2014, missing a golden opportunity in the sixth game to win with Black and take control of the match. He has defeated every player in the candidates as well as numerous chess deities such as Kasparov and Kramnik. However, this year has been a tough year for Anand, as he has fallen out of the top 10 and hit his lowest rating since 2003.

The Gibraltar open cost Anand quite a few Elo points.

At age 46, Vishy seems to be in the twilight of his career and this might be his last shot. Unlike Manning, he doesn’t have Von Miller or a team to carry him to victory. Does he have enough fuel in the tank for one last ride to go out on top?

Key Strengths:

Anand often finds ingenious ways to activate his pieces. He is nearly impossible to contain and will find creative ways to break out of seemingly subdued positions. In the following two examples, he masterfully sacrifices material to energize his pieces to crush GMs Aronian and Wang Hao.  

Never write off the Tiger of Madras!

The flip side of Anand’s own activity is that he often dominates his opponents from start to finish, never allowing them to execute their own ideas. He’s simply a master at prophylactic thinking. Against Carlsen and Topalov, Anand dismantles his opponent’s opportunity for counterplay and achieves uncontested victories.  

Key Weaknesses:

As Anand has aged, he’s become more prone to mental lapses. In a field as strong as the Candidates', such mistakes can prove costly. In the past year, he inexplicably lost games that he likely would not have a few years ago.

What to Watch for:

Anand may be at the tail end of his career, but it would be foolish to count him out of the running. In 2014, few thought he would win the Candidates' but he emerged the victor by a full point. To replicate those results, Anand will need to be in top form and surprise his opponents with his deep sacrifices.

Win or lose, this may be Anand’s last Candidates' tournament. Regardless of the result, his legacy will be much like Manning’s: a legendary competitor who played the game with brilliance matched by few.  

Want more Anand? Check out's videos featuring Vishy Anand.

The FIDE Candidates’ Tournament runs March 10-30 in Moscow. The winner will earn the right to challenge Magnus Carlsen in a match that will be held November 10-30 in New York.

The eight participants are Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura (both USA), Vishy Anand (India), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler (both Russia), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Levon Aronian (Armenia). is publishing profiles of each participant.

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