Kolkata: With just two spots up for grabs, chess player Viswanathan Anand said Wednesday he is confident of sealing his berth in the 2019 Grand Chess Tour (GCT) Finals to be played in London November 30 to December 10.
The GCT Finals will be held during the London Chess Classic in London and Viswanathan Anand wants to brighten his prospects with yet another perfect finish in the Tata Steel Rapid and Blitz tournament to be played here November 22 to 26.
Anand, who finished a disappointing tied third in the Sinquefield Cup last month, needs 13 points from the remaining two legs in Bucharest (November 6-10) and Kolkata to seal a spot in the GCT Finals which carries a prize purse of USD 3,50,000.
“Definitely it’s (securing a place in GCT Finals) gettable, but it is still very unpredictable. (Levon) Aronian, (Wesley) So and me, all have the same tournaments left. So all of us are fighting for the same 13 points,” the five-time former World Champion told this agency in an interview from Chennai.
“On top of that, there are other guys, who in the event of a crumble, can get close enough. So, I think 6-7 players are fighting for the last two spots. Hopefully, it will go well for me,” Viswanathan Anand added.
The ‘City of Joy’ has been a happy hunting ground for Anand. From playing his first GM tournament here in 1986 to winning the Tata Steel Blitz title last year, Kolkata holds a special place in the chess wizard’s heart.
“My performance in the Blitz tournament (last year) was great and that made it extra special. Kolkata has been very special to me and the sport fans are really passionate,” Viswanathan Anand pointed out.
The competition here will see Anand face World Champion Magnus Carlsen for the first time in India since his 2013 World Championship defeat in Chennai.
“I have played him (Carlsen) many times in between. I don’t think that matters too much either because there would be other players as well. Then I was playing him exclusively. Now there will be 10 participants,” said Anand about his upcoming duel with the Norwegian. “But of course it’s always a big challenge playing (Magnus) Carlsen. His performance this year has been very good.
Anand won one match and drew 10 at the classical leg of the GCT in the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis. The Indian, however, failed to convert some positional advantages there, especially against GM Ding Liren.
But Anand now wants to shift his focus on the ‘FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss’ event in the Isle of Man which will be played October 8 to 22. The winner will qualify for the 2020 Candidates Tournament.
On his preparation for the event, which is expected to be the strongest Swiss-system tournament, Anand said: “It’s still a while way but I am getting ready for it. There are too many variables. I don’t know whom I’ll be paired with and with what colours. So you just have to go, be ready to take your chances and see what happens. You can’t plan and switch on.”
Anand, who will turn 50, December 11, also ruled out retirement plans anytime soon. “No, at the moment. I haven’t thought about it. I will see how it goes. I don’t think about retirement a lot,” Anand signed off.