Magnus Carlsen has lost little momentum since decisively winning a title match with Viswanathan Anand last November.
Returning to the chess arena in a February tournament in Zurich, he finished first in a field of elite players. The ex-champion Anand tanked to a dismal fifth in the six-player event, dashing it would seem any hopes he had for a comeback.
But Anand continued in his quest. Urged on by former world champion Vladimir Kramnik, he took part, albeit hesitantly, in the recent Candidates Tournament in Khanti-Mansiysk, Russia.
After taking an early lead, the Indian grandmaster won the event
It was a substantial victory. With a sudden and unexpected display of competitive elan, he had gained the right to another title match with Carlsen.
A major factor in the rematch – which will take place in November – will be their relative ages. Anand is 44, Carlsen only 23.
Head-on match play is a sustained and grueling struggle favoring youthful stamina.
Also significant and intimidating is Carlsen’s soaring international rating, a mark of a growing superiority over other top players.
But Anand, superbly talented, disciplined and tough when in form, can never be taken lightly. Substantial underdog in the present, notwithstanding, he is capable of building on his recent comeback.
Below is a win by Daniil Dubov against Dmitry Kokarev from the 21st Russian Team Championship in Loo, Russia.
Russian Team Championship