CHENNAI: An year after his crushing defeat to Magnus Carlsen in the world chess championship, Viswanathan Anand is in Sochi with an opportunity to set things right. And former women’s champion Susan Polgar believes he may not get another one.
Polgar, who was in Chennai last year as a commentator, told TNIE while Anand had done exceptionally well to earn a rematch, he may find the way back to the top extremely tough if he were to lose again. “Yes, it is his last realistic chance. There are too many young talented players and it is a grueling process,” she said.
Nerves may not be something that one would usually attributes to Carlsen, but it is precisely what, Polgar believes, Anand has to exploit to regain his title. “In this match, it will all come down to if Anand can capitalise on any of Carlsen’s shaky moments. Anand had that opportunity in the first few games in Chennai but failed to do it. Once the young challenger got his nerves settled, he was unstoppable. If Anand can score first in this match then anything can happen,” she said.
With a title to defend in front of home fans and the odds stacked heavily against him, pressure was something that got to Anand last year, especially as the match entered its later stages. But Polgar believes he will have significantly less pressure to deal with this time around. “I think Anand will have a lot less pressure this time because first, he is not playing in Chennai. Also, most experts do not expect him to win so he can play freely with very little to lose. The pressure will be on Carlsen this time to defend his title.”
While Carlsen will definitely enter the match as the favourite, the odds are not as heavily stacked in his favour as it was last year, according to Polgar. “I think Anand will have a better chance this time. However, Carlsen is still the slight favourite. He is younger and in his prime. But it is silly for anyone to count Anand out. I think his victory in the Candidates was unexpected, even to Anand himself. This shows the chess world how dangerous Anand can be. Never count him out, even though he is past his prime,” she said.
While she may not be on Indian television dissecting moves like last year, Polgar will be doing live commentary on each game on her Facebook page. Joining her in select games will be GM RB Ramesh, who was her co-commentator last year.