Fifty-fifty. This is how Grandmaster GN Gopal weighs the chances of Vishwanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen in their World Championship showdown. Terming Anand as the greatest inspiration for all chess players in India this generation, Gopal pinpoints “adaptability” as his best quality.
“It is no surprise that the Norwegian GM and World No.1 Magnus Carlsen is the favourite in this mega event. But it is really a competition between two individuals, wherein their lives so far would be evaluated. In a way, the personalities of Anand and Carlsen would be tested,” Gopal told Express.
Calling Carlsen a real product of the 21st century, Kerala’s lone grandmaster said: “The 22-year old Carlsen had grown up enjoying all the modern facilities. He has all the qualities of the Western world. It is no matter of doubt that he is the strongest player,” Gopal hailed.
But when asked if that mean the Norwegian would win the match, Gopal pointed out, “These qualities are helpful in a tournament, not in a match. Though age is the great advantage for Carlsen, it could be his disadvantage as well. Anand is the most talented player in the history of chess. He has got intuitions too, which make him a dangerous player. The age-difference between these two players is 21 years. (The champion will be 44 in December). Anand’s experience is a factor which cannot not be written off.”
So then, what are the Indian superstar’s chances? “50:50,” pat came the reply. “The usual opening move of Anand’s is E-4 but in the 2008 World Championship against Vladimir Kramnik, he experimented with the D-4 opening for the first time in his career, perplexing Kramnik. Adaptability, coupled with strategy, make him a better player,” Gopal argued.
He added that Anand was the single-most factor which had helped chess bloom in the country. “He was a great source of inspiration for me in my career. As a player, he notices others’ games and never hesitates to appreciate achievements. Anand often calls and gives me guidance. And whenever he notices some good moves, he acknowledges it,” he said.