'Anand to have Carlsen as a second'

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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0 | Chess Event Coverage
Two interviews with World Champion Viswanathan Anand have appeared in Indian newspapers this week, and in one of them he makes a remarkable statement. To the question whether GM Ganguly will again be in his team of seconds for the match against Topalov, the World Champion answers he's doesn't know yet. "But one thing is for sure, Magnus Carlsen (the world No. 2) will be one of the seconds." Ehm... say again?

After he defeated Vladimir Kramnik in Bonn in 2008, Viswanathan Anand hasn't had a great 2009. In Linares he finished 4th, behind Grischuk, Ivanchuk and Carlsen. At Amber he finished behind Aronian and Kramnik. In Mainz, for the first time in many years he didn't win the rapid title and at the Tal Memorial he ended 5th, behind Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Carlsen and Aronian. These are not the kind of results Anand can be satisfied about, and certainly not as a reigning World Champion. In an interview with The Times of India, Anand says he needs to play more aggressively to become successful again in 2010:

"I need to up my game and play aggressively. Veselin Topalov is very aggressive player. Vladimir Kramnik is a tough opponent as well. The preparations are on." (...) This year has been a mix of fortunes. But compared to 2007-08, it has been a bad year. There were quite a few ups and downs. I will have to raise my game to compete against the best."


A honest statement by the World Champ, and also an ambitious one. And in an interview with Calcutta newspaper The Telegraph published just two days later, Anand seems to make clear that he's taking the match against Topalov very seriously.

Whether Surya Sekhar Ganguly will be his one of his seconds this time too He may be. I am not sure. Seconds are a very secretive thing. Even if I tell you that he will be one of my seconds, the rival camp will not believe me. But one thing is for sure, Magnus Carlsen (the world No. 2) will be one of the seconds.


Well, what to think of that? Anand and Carlsen have worked together before, during the preparation for the 2008 match, but things have changed considerably since then. In just a week from now Carlsen will be the official number one on the rating list, and he's rapidly becoming the favourite to win next year's Candidates matches, and with that to become the challenger of the winner of... Anand-Topalov. By now, the Norwegian is a clear competitor to Anand, and so the affair reminds us of another World Championship match where Anand was involved, and his opponent, Garry Kasparov, worked together with... a young Vladimir Kramnik.

Vishy AnandIn fact, we find this hard to believe. It could be possible that Anand is toying with his opponent and the media, but it's even more likely that he was misquoted. Before the match against Kramnik he refused to mention the names of his seconds until the last day, so it's hard to believe that he would want to do it differently this time. And in the mean time, Henrik Carlsen has apparently stated that his son "has his own plans and schedule". That sounds more like it. If the two would work together, we'll probably find out during the match, but not before.

To end this column, let's do a poll. (We might repeat it after Corus.)

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