Indian chess maestro Vishwanathan Anand clinched the inaugural Tata Steel Chess India Blitz Tournament in style by beating Hikaru Nakamura in the playoff on Wednesday.
The five-time world champion, who was initially running fourth after the first leg of the tournament, easily secured wins in the final nine rounds.
In a faster than a blitz second round, Anand won the game with white pieces, before drawing with black to seal the issue 1.5-0.5.
An overwhelmed Anand, in the prize distribution ceremony, expressed his happiness, “Today was just like a dream. I wanted to show the audience what is that I do in some other part of the world all the time and it was nice to be able to do it here.”
“It was just the most magical day for me. Here, I did not have any problem with motivation. It genuinely meant a lot to me to do well here,” Anand added.
The 48-year old chess champion won the last bronze medal at the World Championship in December 2017. This was the same meet where he had won the rapid event title.
“It’s long been a dream of mine. And we have ticked the other boxes, we have good opens, we have strong players. But the one thing that was lacking was frequent visits by the top players in the world. Now we have that. So it meant a lot to me to be able to play here in India and especially here in Kolkata,” quoted Anand.
Notably, Anand played his first GM tournament here in 1986.
The five-time World Champion was also playing his first event in India after he was defeated by Magnus Carlsen in the 2013 World Championships.
Nakamura was almost winning the final round when India’s youngest Grandmaster R. Praggnanandhaa did a favour to Anand my holding Nakamura to a draw. This lead to a playoff between Nakamura and Anand.
Then, Vishwanathan Anand did not lose a single chance to let Nakamura take away the match.
World No.11 Anand showed some solid moves with a one-up game pawn.
Anand put forward his aggressive best and kept attacking that put Nakamura on the back foot of the game.
It was a tough fight for Anand against Nakamura, who played extremely well throughout the tournament. Showing genuine sportsmanship, Nakamura complimented Anand that there’s no reason why Anand should stop playing the game.
Nakamura said, “To me what Vishy has done. I am almost certain I won’t be playing chess at that age. So it’s really remarkable and I think especially if you compare (him) against Gary (Kasparov) for example. Gary kind of came out of retirement to play in St Lucia.”
“And I think Vishy did better than he did. It just shows what a truly amazing chess player he is,” Nakamura concluded.